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Tale of Genji
ISBN 0679729534 / 9780679729532 / 0-679-72953-4
Publisher Random House Inc
List price $14.95
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Widely acknowledged as the world's first novel, this astonishingly lovely book was written by a court lady in Heian Japan and offers a window into that formal, mannered world. Genji, a man of passionate impulses and a lover of beauty, is the favorite son of the Emperor, though his position at court is not entirely stable. He follows his wayward longings through moonlight-soaked gardens and jeweled pavilions, with mysterious women such as the Lady of the Orange Blossoms, the Akashi lady, and his own father's Empress. This version is translated by Edward G. Seidensticker, who has translated a number of other great Japanese writers such as Mishima and Kawabata. [via]