Another Lucky Little Free Library Find: Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji, Written One Thousand Years Ago

Lady Murasaki 
mentioned only three times in her diary
The Tale of Genji
her masterwork
which some argue
is the world's first and best novel
written in early 1000's Japan 
the story of the lady chasings of
the handsome Prince Genji
who travels the land
spying on beautiful girls
whispering through paper screens
falling desperately in love

(page 57)

"Take me to where she is hiding!"

"It is difficult," (his boy servant) said. "She is locked in and there are so many people there.  I am afraid to go with you."

"So be it," said Genji, "but you at least must not abandon me," and he laid the boy beside him on his bed.  The boy was well content to find himself lying by this handsome young Prince's side, and Genji, we must record, found the boy no bad substitute for his ungracious sister."

blossoming blossoms
flowering flowers
always sending poems

fine handwriting
making quite a good impression
on our handsome Prince Genji

In chapter 5 entitled "Murasaki", Lady Murasaki writes how, while visiting his wet nurse who was old and ill, Prince Genji becomes curious about the house next door because of its lovely garden, drawn shades, and the ladies he spies inside.  

He arranges an affair, and causes in the chosen one such an emotional stir that she dies.  The prince chases about seeking council and formulating stories to cover his tracks, least his wife find out.

Prince Genji becomes so emotionally drained that he too falls ill and eventually travels to the remote mountains in search of an old medicine man.  While there, Prince Genji hears about an old hermit whose estate nearby is so lush and currently housing a number of fine ladies and girls. 

Prince Genji is revived!

He goes to visit the hermit and when he catches sight of a 10 year old beauty and imagines her grown, he proposes to adopt the girl into the Emperor's palace.  The girl's maid is appalled by the idea and refuses, which only fuels Prince Genji's obsession.  He becomes so desperate that when he hears that the girl's father is planning on retrieving the girl the next day, Prince Genji arranges to kidnap her under dark of night and take her as his own, to the Emperor's palace, where the prince delights in watching her play.  

And I am only half way through the first of six volumes.  

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