Shokaiban

[Eiri] Osana Genji [Genji Digested & Illustrated].

64 full-page woodcuts, 5 diagrams of family trees, & one illus. of the floor plan of the palace. 16; 12; 15; 14; 12; 12; 14; 12; 18; 18 folding leaves. Ten vols. Large 8vo, orig. pale blue semi-stiff boards (boards a little soiled), orig. block-printed titles on upper covers (one label lacking), new stitching. [Edo]: Ichirobei Shokai (or Matsue), [probably 1681].

An undated edition, published by Ichirobei Shokai, one of the two leading Edo publishers of the era, of this famous text, a digested and simplified version of Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji. Our illustrations are attributed to the publisher’s friend Hishikawa Moronobu (ca. 1631-94), the master illustrator and the first artist to be called an ukiyo-eshi (“master of ukiyo-e”). The text of our edition was written by Nonoguchi (1595-1669), early Edo haiku poet and artist. For Nonoguchi, the poems of the Tale of Genji were of primary interest, and so the illustrations summarize and visualize their content.

Earlier editions, mostly published in Kyoto, had illustrations by Nonoguchi, but for this edition, the Edo publisher Shokai ordered new woodblocks with fresh illustrations by the master Moronobu; it is one of the earliest books illustrated by this artist.

Our ten volumes contain 64 fine full-page woodcuts illustrating crucial scenes from the book. While the basic layouts of the woodcuts are based on Nonoguchi’s illustrations, there are substantial and subtle differences in Moronobu’s designs; it is fascinating to study the modifications made by Moronobu.

Fine set, preserved in a chitsu.

❧ John T. Carpenter, The Tale of Genji (Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition catalogue, 2019), p. 83 & Chapter 7. Laura Moretti, Pleasure in Profit. Popular Prose in Seventeenth-Century Japan, pp. 80-81. Our edition corresponds with the copy at the Iwase Bunko, also undated.

Price: $10,000.00

Item ID: 7755

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