The Lady of the Boat: Being the Fifth Part of the "Tale of Genji"

The Lady of the Boat: Being the Fifth Part of the "Tale of Genji"

The Lady of the Boat: Being the Fifth Part of the "Tale of Genji"

The Lady of the Boat: Being the Fifth Part of the "Tale of Genji"

Excerpt

The first four volumes describe the life of Prince Genji, an imaginary Japanese grandee, conceived of as living at about the time of the authoress's own childhood, that is to say, about A.D. 980. Genji falls in love with his father the Emperor's concubine, by whom he has a son Ryozen, who is reputed to be the Emperor's child. But the wheel of fate turns, and Genji when middle-aged is deceived by his great friend's son, Kashiwagi, just as he had himself deceived the Emperor. It is Genji's reputed son (in reality the son of Kashiwagi) who is the hero of Volumes V and VI. A sort of secondary hero is Niou, Genji's grandson. The earlier volumes are mainly occupied with the rivalry between the various women whom Genji loved. These final volumes deal with the rivalry between Kaoru and Niou for the love of Kozeri and (in Vol. VI) of Ukifune. The contrast between the characters of Kaoru and Niou is developed with great skill, particularly in Vol. VI.

Between the end of Vol. IV and the beginning of Vol. V an interval of about eight years is evidently supposed to elapse, during which Genji dies. The reader is advised not to worry much about the identities of the various ladies in the first three chapters. They are introduced simply in order to display the characters of Niou and Kaoru; subsequently they play very little part. For this volume I have used Dr. Kaneko's new edition. I have omitted all diacritical marks in the transcription of foreign words.

A. W.

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