The Tale of Genji – Lady Murasaki (2 vols, complete)


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The Tale of Genji – Lady Murasaki (2 vols, complete)


Title: The Tale of Genji

Author: Murasaki Shikibu, Royall Tyler (trans)

Publisher: The Folio Society. Out of print.

Condition: Hardcover, 2 volumes in slipcase. Brand new, shrink-wrapped. Two small bumps to slipcase on two front corners, otherwise perfect.

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A detailed video review of this edition is available here.

About the book:

The Tale of Genji (源氏物語 Genji monogatari) is a classic work of Japanese literature written by the noblewoman and lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu in the early years of the 11th century in “concertina” or “orihon” style made of several sheets of paper pasted together and folded alternately in one direction then the other, around the peak of the Heian period. It is sometimes called the world’s first novel, the first modern novel, the first psychological novel or the first novel still to be considered a classic. Notably, the work also illustrates a unique depiction of the lifestyles of high courtiers during the Heian period. While regarded as a masterpiece, its precise classification and influence in both the Western and Eastern canons has been a matter of debate.


Royall Tyler (born 1936) is a scholar and translator of Japanese literature.

A descendant of the American playwright Royall Tyler (1757–1826), he was born in London, England, grew up in the United States and, during his high school years, France. He has a B.A. in Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Japanese literature from Columbia University. Between 1990 and retirement in 2000 he taught at the Australian National University in Canberra. Earlier, he taught at Ohio State, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Oslo, Norway. He lives in rural New South Wales.


The book is 1,304 pages in total. Frontispiece and 32 pages of colour plates in volume one; frontispiece and 20 colour plates in volume two. 180 integrated black and white illustrations.

“This lavish two-volume edition has gilded page tops and a blocked slipcase, and the bindings are blocked with the title and an eye-catching design inspired by The Tale of Genji Album illustrations, a design that is continued through the text itself. In addition to the images from the Harvard Album – an ensemble of images that dates from the early 16th century and is thought to be the earliest complete cycle of Genji illustrations, the two volumes have over 180 black and white illustrations, expertly redrawn by a contemporary artist from a range of medieval sources such as painted scrolls, or emaki. Depicting details as varied as musical instruments, hairstyles, architectural features and festivals, they bring Genji’s world to life.”

– from the publisher