S is for Murasaki Shikibu, author of first novel ever in 1021 #AtoZ Challenge
Amazingly, this is part of the original manuscript of the first novel EVER to be written, in 1021.
It was written by Japanese noblewoman and lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu. The story contains 400 characters, whose lives are followed as they grow older, without an actual plot but with events, rather like a modern soap opera, showing the lifestyles of high courtiers during the Heian period in Japan.
It only calls the characters by their position in court, as court manners of that era would have meant it was unacceptably familiar to mention a person’s name.
It wasn’t until the early 20th century that The Tale of Genji was translated into modern Japanese, by the poet Akiko Yosano.
How incredible is that – writing over 50 chapters containing 400 characters of remarkable consistency without reference to any technology whatsoever…
Many painted depictions of Murasaki and the Tale of Genji have been made in the inimitable and beautiful Japanese style. Here is one of them:
An interior court scene from The Tale of Genji by Japan’s National Diet Library
And here are some quotes from the book:
There are as many sorts of women as there are women.”
I certainly agree with that.
One ought not to be unkind to a woman merely on account of her plainness, any more than one had a right to take liberties with her merely because she was handsome”
This sounds as if it could be Jane Austen writing centuries later!
It is indeed in many ways more comfortable to belong to that section of society whose action are not publicly canvassed and discussed”
This could be one of the Royal Family, or any celebrity now.
It’s amazing to see into her mind like this – and see how very little some concerns have changed!
What an extraordinary woman!
If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book!
- Posted in: A-Z Challenge 2017 ♦ Extraordinary Women ♦ Liz Brownlee ♦ Poems ♦ Reaching the Stars ♦ Reaching the Stars Poems
- Tagged: A-Z Challenge 2017, Extraordinary Women, First ever Novel, First novel written, Jan Dean, Japanese Literature, Liz Brownlee, Michaela Morgan, Murasaki Shikibu, Poems about extraordinary women and girls, poetry, Reaching the Stars