The Tale of Genji: Chapters 5 – 9

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Matthew is hosting a read along for The Tale of Genji.  This week we have read chapters 5 – 9.

I am still finding The Tale of Genji very hard to read. It is a real chore, and I have a feeling of dread whenever I know it is time to pick it up again. I admit that I sometimes cannot follow what is going on without referring to the online study guides. Sometimes the meaning hinges on one sentence, or even a single word, and I often don’t pick up on these things until I read about them afterwards.

I am getting a much better feel for who everyone is now, and Matthew’s chart has helped with this immensely. I can’t say I know who everyone is, but I’m getting there!

Here is a brief summary of what happens in chapters 5 – 9.

Chapter 5

Genji becomes ill and so goes to find a holy man in the mountains in the hope of being cured. While he is there he spots a beautiful young girl, Murasaki. Even though she is only ten-years-old Genji decides that he must have her as a wife, and so takes her into his care until she becomes old enough to be married.

Chapter 6

Genji is still sad after the loss of Yugao, and longs to find someone else  who is: 

…dear and sweet, with no great name to uphold and with whom he need never feel required to be on his best behaviour!

He hears about the shy princess, Suetsumuhana, living in the mountains and so predictably he decides to woo her, and sends her a series of notes.

Chapter 7

The Emperor shows off his new son, and is pleased that he looks so much like Genji did as a baby. The Emperor doesn’t realise that the Genji is actually the baby’s father.

Chapter 8

Genji sleeps with Oborozukiyo, the younger sister of Kokiden, the wife of the Emperor.

Chapter 9

The Emperor abdicates, and his son, Suzaku, (son of Kokiden) becomes the new Emperor. This leads to Genji having a rise in rank by being appointed Commander of the Right, and so having an escort of eight guards at all times.

Genji’s wife Aoi becomes pregnant, and they have a son named Yugiri, but Aoi becomes very ill after the birth and dies a few days later. Genji is devastated, but after a short period of mourning he has sex with the now fifteen year-old Murasaki.

Can you understand what is going on without outside help?

Are you still struggling to follow it, or have you got the hang of it now?


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8 Comments

  1. CBJames says:

    I have a feeling I may end up being the only one who reads this through to the end. It sounds like you’re ready for something else. If you have a sense of dread whenever it’s time to read more of Genji, I wouldn’t blame you if you moved on.

    I guess I have gotten the hand of it. I’m not really trying to get everything and I’m sure there are still major things I’m missing out on, but I am getting enough of the plot and enough of the poetry to enjoy the book. I’m finding it quite comical at this point.

    I hope it gets better for you soon, but if it doesn’t please don’t slog your way through 1200 pages against your will. Something like a read-a-long should be fun.

  2. Jackie says:

    CBJames – I will make it through to the end – I’m very stubborn! I always give up bad books, but even though I’m not enjoying this I feel as though I’m gaining something from taking part. I guess it is a bit like Shakespeare for me. Really hard work, but I love the sense of acheivement you get at the end. Hopefully there will be a few of us who make it to the end.

  3. Beth F says:

    Hang in there. I’ve read large parts of this in conjunction with a couple of work assignments. That’s all the taste I needed.

  4. mee says:

    Sounds like historical porn. Just kidding :) . I enjoy reading about Genji.

  5. Matt says:

    Jackie, I feel pretty much the same way you do. I do enjoy reading Genji’s escapades, the power struggle of the imperial life, and the beautiful poetry that weaves through the narratives. I haven’t heard much from people other than you and CB James. LOL I hope everyone is at least enjoying the book even if they are not keeping up to date. I also find the relationships become less complicated as I read on.

  6. Jackie says:

    I had noticed the lack of Genji postings too!

    FleurFisher also had a Genji update here: http://fleurfisher.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/the-tale-of-genji-chapters-1-to-4/
    but I haven’t spotted any others. I really hope they’ll join in soon.

    1. FleurFisher says:

      I’m behind, but I’m still going. A post on chapters 5 to 9 is in the works and now I’m done with a long Dickens I can spend a little more time with Genji.

      1. Jackie says:

        I look forward to reading your new Genji post. Hopefully I’ll have a new one tomorrow, but I have a bit more reading to do first!

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