The Summer of Genji

For everyone who answers the question “Got any summer plans?” by saying “I’m going to read what is widely considered the world’s first novel, a 1200-page Japanese court drama known as The Tale of Genji,” then congrats on being my kind of person.

Fact is, starting June 15 I’m reading this beast, and I’ve got a bunch of people from The Quarterly Conversation and Open Letters Monthly who will be joining me and blogging it every step of the way. We’re calling it The Summer of Genji, and we’re putting together a nice little website where anyone who wants to join in can follow our progress. (Hopefully the site will be ready to show off later this week.)

We’ll be using the Tyler translation, published as a Penguin Classic in 2002, and were going to do a very manageable 90 – 100 pages per week. So if you’re game, grab a copy by June 15 and get ready to be in Imperial Japan.



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What a great idea! Love it! The Tale of Genji is an amazing text, and one I’ve been reading on and off for years now. Jealous of all those readers out there who will be reading it for the first time. Hope to join in on some of your conversations as well, I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks.

Scott,

I love the idea, and I might just be on board, though I just read my first Bernhard and he might be my thing for the next month or so.

I was wondering, though, what made you select this translation? I’ve often looked at reading it (I’m a fan of Japanese lit) but never decided which translation I would prefer (excuses, excuses…)

In my opinion it is also the world’s first Science Fiction novel – Weird and mindblowing. I’ll be following long at home – will you have an online glossary of who everybody is at a certain point in the text (hint: identity is fluid to say the least)?

P.T.: It wasn’t my choice, although my readers-in-arms seemed to this it was the obvious choice. I really know very little about the options for this book.

Very much looking forward to this. Time to get myself to Green Apple…

Most intrigued, text ordered: deal me in.

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