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Authors

Elissa Kido

Abstract

The Tale of Genji, written in the early eleventh century by a Japanese woman in the imperial court, is the undisputed masterpiece of classical Japanese literature. Some critics suggest that Japanese fiction owes its existence to The Tale of Genji since it is the earliest work in the history of Japanese literature to set the literary standards for the narrative (Rimer 200). In terms of world literature, the presence of psychological introspection in such an early work has prompted Western critics to acclaim Genji as the world's first psychological novel (Morris 265), if not indeed "the oldest true novel written anywhere in the world" (Keene 187). The hero of this novel is Prince Genji whose appearance and abilities are so brilliant that he is called Hikaru Genji, the Shining Prince or the Radiant One. He is by every Heian standard the beau ideal, and his charismatic appeal is far-reaching.

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