Murasaki Shikibu, Dennis Washburn – translator – The Tale of Genji, Volume 1

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.

Author: Murasaki Shikibu, Dennis Washburn – translator
Narrator: Brian Nishii
Duration: 35 hours 35 minutes
Released: 19 Dec 2011
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Language: English

User Review:

colt unharmed

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 authors clearly ambiguous, perhaps conflicted, attitudes toward her characters actions and thoughts.

Highly recommended. (Note, I preordered the original, one volume format. Its worth using two credits for the two volume format.)