The Tale of Genji, was written a millennium ago by a Japanese court lady known as Murasaki Shikibu. It is the most popular and widely-read epic in the Japanese literary canon.
It has been translated into many languages and revered as an influential world literature. However, I want to argue that Genji is a world literature not because it is read by the world outside Japan, but because of its dialogic engagement with the Chinese classics. It is a world literature since the moment it was written.
This new approach to the study of Genji will show an itinerary of literary influences which transcend national boundaries, as well as those of gender and class. I demonstrate that the writing practice of Murasaki Shikibu is not simply a matter of borrowing from literary sources; it is a writing that goes beyond indigenous aesthetics thereby expands the possibilities for literary creation. My approach also enables researchers of Genji to trace tangible evidence of influence as a thread that connects traditional Japanese studies of Genji with contemporary literary theories.
Presented by Dr Jindan Ni/School of Global, Urban and Social Studies/Global & Language Studies RMIT University
Dr. Jindan Ni teaches Chinese language at RMIT university, Australia. She holds a PhD from La Trobe University and her research interest lies in the dialogic relationships between Chinese and Japanese literature, as well as comparative literary studies.