As we ring in the New Year, it’s time to announce a special contest I am holding this year to help create a reading community. This year my main selection for the Literati Corner is the mammoth Japanese novel The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. I will be splitting it into six parts that will be reviewed in posts between each of my regularly scheduled series. I’ll be using the 1976 translation by Edward G. Seidensticker, which in the edition I’m using runs about 1,200 pages. But since we’ll be reading it over the course of the calendar year, it should be manageable, coming out to about 200 or 250 pages a post roughly every two months. Here is the reading list so anyone who wants to can read along with tentative dates as to when I’ll post my commentary:
Post 1: This post will cover chapters 1 through 9, and it will be posted in early March, 2016.
Post 2: This post will cover chapters 10 through 21, and it will be posted in early May, 2016.
Post 3: This post will cover chapters 22 through 34, and it will be posted in late June, or early July, 2016.
Post 4: This post will cover chapters 35 through 43, and it will be posted in late August, 2016.
Post 5: This post will cover chapters 44 through 49, and it will be posted in mid-October, 2016.
Post 6: This post will cover chapters 50 through 54, and it will be posted in early December, 2016.
You can buy a copy of the novel by that translator here:
Of course, most libraries have a copy of it in one translation or other, and readers can use whatever translation they like as long as they can follow along without too much confusion. I will repeat some of this when I start the series, and of course a lot of this is also on the printable PDF study guide:
It will also be posted on the Literati Corner page on my menu bar.
Essay Contest, due August 31st, 2016:
One of the main themes of the story is Genji’s fascination with women who resemble his mother, like Fujitsubo and Murasaki. Compare or contrast The Tale of Genji with Sophocles’ plays Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus from ancient Greece. Entries should be in English and run no more than 25 pages long in PDF form using the MLA style, though I’m not a stickler for formatting. Only put what personal information on the PDF that you want to be published. You should have your first and last name or pen name, city and state or country, school or organization if affiliated. You full address should be in the body of the email in case you win. Send entries to email@example.com by the deadline, and please put “Tale of Genji Contest” in the subject line. If you want a critique of your entry, let me know in your email, and I’ll see if I can accommodate that.
This contest is open to high school or college students as well as adults, and I have no country restrictions for entrants. I will select a winner and possibly runner-up if there are enough entries to add a second place. The winner will be published on my blog in November or December with my comments added, copyright remains the property of the entrant. First prize includes a signed print copy of my horror novel, The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak, as well as a set of the Four Treasures, which includes brushes, ink stick, ink stone and paper, indicating you have earned your place as a traditional scholar. As for the Four Treasures, for those who aren’t familiar with their significance in Chinese culture particularly, here is an essay on that:
The runner-up if I select one will also be published on my blog and get a signed print copy of my novel. Both will get my seal with certificates stating your winning status.
For the part of the assignment dealing with Sophocles, I have links in the PDF guide for both online and print translations. For those readers who want to do the reading but don’t want to take the time for the essay, I have put together some thought-provoking questions on the study guide for you to discuss on the posts as I roll them out. So there should be something for everyone, and we can enjoy our literary encounter with Heian Era Japan as we read along together.