Reading Journal Entry: Diary of Lady Murasaki

Lady Murasaki is the author of one of the Great Books on my list, the Tale of Genji, which is one of the earliest works of Japanese literature, as well as one of the earliest novels in all of global literature.

I haven't gotten to the Tale of Genji yet, but I hear that Genji is a handsome and naughty boy who gets up to lots of amorous escapades.

Murakasi Shikibo lived around the turn of the first millenium, one of the court ladies attendant on the Empress in Kyoto. This 'diary' seems to be a combination of personal recollections and letters edited together at a later date. It records several significant events in court life, beginning with the birth of the Empress's first son and including several elaborate and involved religious ceremonies.

Personal reflections and observations of extreme delicacy make this a surprising record. There is subtlety here. It's a fascinating window onto a world that seems very alien. I was very glad to have the introductory historical materials. It's amazing that people were living like this in Japan while Europeans hadn't even started building cathedrals yet.

1 comment:

Richard said...

To be scrupulously fair to the Europeans, they had built cathedral-like buildings before that. They were just in a slump.