A Manuscript Digest of the Tale of Genji

Manuscript on paper, entitled on manuscript labels of persimmon-colored paper, brushed with gold, pasted on upper covers, “Genji kokagami” [“A Little Mirror of the Tale of Genji”].

76 (incl. three blanks); 98 (incl. four blanks) leaves. Ten columns per page. Two vols. 8vo (243 x 180 mm.), orig. dark blue semi-stiff wrappers (retsujoso-style bindings), with delicate scenes in gold of cottages in the middle of landscapes, adorned with golden pine trees, flowers, grasses, bushes, clouds & sprays of mist, using kindei (“golden mud”) & golden speckles, & finely textured gold-speckled paste-down endpapers at front & back of each vol. [Japan: copied early Edo].

It is hard to overestimate the cultural significance of the Tale of Genji, the first novel ever written and 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 400 dramatis personae.

By the beginning of the 17th century, the 54 chapters of the Tale of Genji were not easy to read without a teacher. As a result, a series of digests or condensed versions, offering easier access to the text in more familiar language, were published. The present digest, the “Genji kokagami,” consists of 27 chapters, plus the final ten chapters known as Uji jujo [The Ten Books of Uji]. The alternative title to “Genji kokagami,” written on the first page of our manuscript, is “Genji mokuroku no shidai.”

Our manuscript is beautifully written throughout on both sides of each leaf of fine smooth paper.

Fine fresh copy, preserved in a chitsu. The covers are rubbed.

Price: $12,500.00

Item ID: 7754

See all items in Japan, Japanese, Literature, Manuscripts, Women
See all items by