Manuscript on paper entitled “Genji monogatari” [trans.: Tale of Genji]. MURASAKI SHIKIBU.
Manuscript on paper entitled “Genji monogatari” [trans.: Tale of Genji].
Manuscript on paper entitled “Genji monogatari” [trans.: Tale of Genji].
Manuscript on paper entitled “Genji monogatari” [trans.: Tale of Genji].

A Manuscript of Tale of Genji

Manuscript on paper entitled “Genji monogatari” [trans.: Tale of Genji].

Complete in 54 vols. (235 x 170), orig. dark blue semi-stiff wrappers (retsujoso), metallic sprinkled endpapers, written on fine quality torinoko paper in a beautiful & highly skilled calligraphic cursive hand, 10 columns of text per page, orig. orange manuscript title slips in center of each upper cover. Preserved in the original drop-front lacquered wooden book cabinet (Shodansu), six drawers with orig. gilt bronze handles & pulls, exterior of cabinet decorated with autumn grass & flower designs in gilt & silver makie. [Japan]: copied early to mid-Edo period.

A fine, relatively early, manuscript of Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji, the first novel ever written, and presented in the classic style of the Edo period. It has been said, with only some exaggeration, that in the dowry of every high-class or noble bride during Edo times a manuscript of Tale of Genji in a finely lacquered and decorated box would be present.

It is hard to overestimate the cultural significance of Tale of Genji, a work that has resonated throughout art and literature, in all periods, both in Japan and the rest of the world. Murasaki Shikibu finished her work in 1021. She was named after the beloved wife of Genji, Murasaki. The work recounts the life of Genji, the second son of the Japanese Emperor and comprises some four hundred dramatis personae.

This large novel is in 54 chapters with a separate volume for each chapter, and belongs to the Aobyshibon (blue-covered book) recension. There are some 300 surviving manuscripts, the oldest fragmentary copies from 13th century, while an illustrated scroll from the 12th century survives as well. All the manuscripts have differences from each other. They are classified into three main text recensions: Kawachibon, based on the Chikayuki manuscript edited 1236-1255; Aobyoshibon recension, based on the Teika manuscript, the most conservative version believed to best represent the lost autograph; and Beppon recension, representing all other mixed manuscripts as well as commentaries.

Our manuscript is written on torinoko paper, which has the characteristics of a smooth surface with sheen.

In fine condition. The first three volumes have some light dampstaining in the bottom and the upper wrapper is a little wormed. There is also a little worming in the gutter, not touching text. Vol. 7 has several leaves with inoffensive worming touching text. Vol. 16 has some minor worming in gutter. Vol. 25 has some dampstaining in blank lower margin. Vol. 42 has some very minor dampstaining to outer upper corners of leaves. Vol. 53 has the slightest mouse-gnawing on the fore-edge. The final volume has a little worming to upper cover and endpaper, some marginal dampstaining at foot, and final eight leaves with some worming touching text. A few trivial binding defects.

Price: $75,000.00

Item ID: 6226

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