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The Tale of Genji, Volume 1

Narrated by: Brian Nishii
Length: 35 hrs and 35 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

Murasaki Shikibu, born into the middle ranks of the aristocracy during the Heian period (794-1185 CE), wrote The Tale of Genji, widely considered the world's first novel, during the early years of the 11th century. Expansive, compelling, and sophisticated in its representation of ethical concerns and aesthetic ideals, Murasaki's tale came to occupy a central place in Japan's remarkable history of artistic achievement and is now recognized as a masterpiece of world literature.

The Tale of Genji is presented here in a flowing new translation for contemporary listeners, who will discover in its depiction of the culture of the imperial court the rich complexity of human experience that simultaneously resonates with and challenges their own. Washburn embeds annotations for accessibility and clarity and renders the poetry into triplets to create prosodic analogues of the original.

©2015 Dennis Washburn (translation) (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Beginning of World Literature

A thousand-year-old masterpiece does not need too much introduction. The reason of review is to state 2 things (1) this is the BEST translation (2) Brian Nishii is the BEST voice artist. Please Mr. Nishii, read us more Japanese literature!

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  • Anthony
  • 24-11-19

Masterful Performance by Brian Nishii

I’ve listened to many other of Brian Nishii’s recordings of Japanese literature, and this is his best yet. The perfect choice for Genji, which it’s nice to finally see in unabridged audiobook. I will definitely purchase part 2 and hope to see more Japanese lit in audiobook with Nishii. The Washburn translation also works especially well in this format.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Caroline
  • 21-01-20

Great Classic title, outstanding narrator

I have been waiting a long time for this in audio. It lives up to its classic status, portraying complex characters throughout their intertwined lives. It is a fascinating experience that involves living for a few weeks in a culture that is at once totally ‘other’ and very believable. Fascinating to see what could be created while living imprisoned behind screens your whole life. Brian Nishii is almost unique in audiobooks in both pronouncing the Japanese in what sounds like a very authentic way and maintaining the character voices through 50 plus hours. (I have listened to many excruciating hours of bad/phony French, German, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, Swedish, etc etc names and accents.) The women have womanish, but not annoying, voices. The most important thing is, however, that he communicates the author’s clearly ambiguous, perhaps conflicted, attitudes toward her characters actions and thoughts. Highly recommended. (Note, I preordered the original, one volume format. It’s worth using two credits for the two volume format.)

5 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 15-03-20

Tedious

The first thing to know is that approximately the first 2 hours of this 35 hour audio book is consumed by an introduction, by the translator, attempting to orient the Western reader. The introduction is painfully tedious. After getting through about 3/4 of the introduction I skipped to the work itself. Despite all the orientation I found it, too, incredibly tedious. For me, the culture gap here is too wide. I don't think it's so much that it's about Japan and I'm a Western guy. It's that it's focused on a highly suffocating world of court life, with no real life intruding. I just can't get interested in the ruminations and affairs of these spoiled, bored courtiers. The reader is okay. He sometimes mispronounces English words, but his voice is pleasant.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew Lubin
  • 26-04-20

Wild and dramatic from beginning to end

I laughed. I swooned. I was disgusted, even horrified at the plot of this book. As a protagonist, Genji is.... a lot. Nishii does a great job reading. He changes his voice (some voices more rough, some more feminine, so more smooth) so it stays interesting even into the 30th hour. I go back and read some of the parts that were particularly shocking, because many things that happen in this book that would probably be banned in todays books was obscured through flowery and indirect language but once you really ingest it, it's like... wtf Genji? I can just imagine the court ladies of the Heian period passing a chapter of this around and chatting about it like people do today with the Bachelor

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-02-20

Tales of Genji

Genji is described as perfect, but he is not. Generally, the story is tedious and primarily of historical significance, but it does provide insight into aspects of Japanese culture as to the importance of status and appearance. Beauty and birth are more important than good behavior. If you are discreet and of high status, bad behavior is ignored. Sentimentality is profound (tears flow constantly). Despite this, there are details of geography and seasons that are wonderful. I enjoyed the poetry the most. Occasionally, the author is quite humorous. I plan to trudge through volume two and hope to hear from other listeners.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Avie
  • 13-07-20

I may not agree with but I couldn’t stop listening

I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading a Tale and that this was from a different time when women were regarded as second class citizens. We all make mistakes as humans but what’s admirable about the characters in this novel is how they each fought their own desires to make things right like Fujitsubo. While on the other hand, you have the virtuousity of Tamakazura. As a woman of the current times, with the freedom we now possess, we may not think of these things anymore or take these for consideration. Such a splendid read! I love the performance of the narrator. I just used another credit for Volume Two.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 03-06-20

Reflecting dew, frozen across ages, fall warmly from my cheeks....

This work is so true today as it was then, a thousand years ago. This Is another reminder that our emotions and passions remain unchanged. The translation and performance must be compared to the spender of Genji himself. No matter how many times we are reminded of Genji’s magnificence so too does this performance hold us in the fold time, bringing the story to life. I cannot say enough to compliment this work. One suggestion. Read the authors introduction after, not before. It may colour your expectations and I felt opened with apologetic comments about the customs of the time that should be well understood by most discerning listeners today.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sakura
  • 05-07-20

Incredible Historical Tale of Ancient Japanese Classes and A Naughty Prince

Beautifully written by Lady Murasaki, this tale completely depicts the story of the ancient Prince Genji and his sexual/romantic entanglements. Ultimately, his actions cause him to be banished from the Royal Palace. However, the tale itself not withstanding, this is also a novel by an ancient Japanese writer whose work is exquisite. Listen to the introduction and note Lady Murasaki’s own story as a writer in feudal Japan.