Murasaki Shikibu

/mooh"rddah sah"kee shee"kee booh'/
Lady, 978?-1031?, Japanese poet and novelist.

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born с 978, Kyōto, Japan

Japanese writer.

Her real name is unknown, and the primary source of knowledge about her life is a diary she kept (1007–10). Her Tale of Genji (completed с 1010) is a long and complex tale, concerned mostly with the loves of Prince Genji and the women in his life. Supremely sensitive to human emotions and the beauties of nature, it provides delightful glimpses of life at the court of the empress Jōtō mon'in, whom Murasaki served. It is generally considered the greatest work of Japanese literature and perhaps the world's first novel.

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▪ Japanese courtier and author
born c. 978, Kyōto, Japan
died c. 1014, Kyōto
 court lady who was the author of the Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji (Tale of Genji, The)), generally considered the greatest work of Japanese literature and thought to be the world's oldest full novel.

      Her real name is unknown; it is conjectured that she acquired the sobriquet of Murasaki from the name of the heroine of her novel. The main source of knowledge about her life is the diary she kept between 1007 and 1010. This work possesses considerable interest for the delightful glimpses it affords of life at the court of the empress Jōtō mon'in, whom Murasaki Shikibu served.

      Some critics believe that she wrote the entire Tale of Genji between 1001 (the year her husband, Fujiwara Nobutaka, died) and 1005, when she began serving at court. More probably, however, the composition of this extremely long and complex novel extended over a much greater period and was not finished until about 1010.

      The Tale of Genji captures the image of a unique society of ultrarefined and elegant aristocrats, whose indispensable accomplishments were skill in poetry, music, calligraphy, and courtship. Much of it is concerned with the loves of Prince Genji and the different women in his life, all of whom are exquisitely delineated. Although the novel does not contain scenes of powerful action, it is permeated with a sensitivity to human emotions and to the beauties of nature hardly paralleled elsewhere. The tone of the novel darkens as it progresses, indicating perhaps a deepening of Murasaki Shikibu's Buddhist conviction of the vanity of the world. Some, however, believe that its last 14 chapters were written by another author. The translation (1935) of The Tale of Genji by Arthur Waley is a classic of English literature. Murasaki Shikibu's diary is included in Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan (1935), translated by Annie Shepley Ōmori and Kōchi Doi.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Murasaki Shikibu — (fl. 978–1014)    Lady Murasaki Shikibu, recognized as Japan’s greatest author, wrote The TALE OF GENJI (Genji Monogatari), the world’s first novel and one of the best. Her reputation parallels that of Shakespeare: Her obscurity and her family’s… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Murasaki, Shikibu — (n. 978, Kyōto, Japón). Escritora japonesa. No se conoce su verdadero nombre y la principal fuente de información que se tiene sobre su vida es un diario de vida (1007–10). Su Romance de Genji (terminado 1010) es un relato extenso y complejo… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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