Metaphorical Writing for the Day–July 27, 2013 A Scene from Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji

Photo: A scene from Lady Murasaki's Tale of the Genji

A scene from Lady Murasaki’s Tale of the Genji……Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki is world renowned historical fiction, and its renowned is amplified by the fact that it is written by a woman in a time (Heian Period Japan) when novels were not being written.  It is considered by some to be the first novel.  There seems to be a dispute about if one person wrote it or not.  It was so full of characters, rumors and court gossip that I found it hard to read. I read one too many love poems or notes written on a fan, and I could not take anymore. So I asked a friend (who studied International Relations and was an English student of mine) about it while I was living in Japan. She said these words, “Poor translation.” I found out from her that the point of the book is hate kills, but I never got any of that. Now remember how many times the bible has been translated or how language changes or how metaphors can change meaning over time or depending on who hears it. In Japan, there is an expression, “A beautiful woman has eight faces.” What did you think when you read that? In Japan, in actuality, it has a very derogatory meaning. In Chinese, there is an expression, “May you live in interesting times.” It is actually a curse, so do we really know what the stories coming from hundreds and hundreds of years ago meant? I wonder, because it has meaning for today, and it has meaning for breaking this Tower of Babel we are all in.  As you think about this, consider that this novel written centuries ago is still being argued about as to whether it was written by one person or not.  How much more the meaning of words written hundreds of years ago? ©Roseroberta

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3 thoughts on “Metaphorical Writing for the Day–July 27, 2013 A Scene from Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji

  1. What a beautiful blog you have here, Bobbi, both words and visuals. It was a surprise to find Tale of the Genji featured and that you have a passion for metaphorical writing, which we share. I first read Tale…as an Asian philosophy major and loved it. The idea of reading a novel written so long ago was powerful then, and I thank you for bringing it back into my life in a fresh way. Looking forward to reading more.

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I'm interested in hearing people's ideas about metaphors and to post other people's metaphors as well as my own!

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