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Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of GenjiPhilosophical Perspectives$
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James McMullen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190654979

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190654979.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji

James McMullen

Oxford University Press

The introduction describes the supreme position of Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji in the Japanese literary and cultural tradition and the general character of the work as the story of Genji, the son of an emperor, and those around him. It addresses the role of philosophy in this extended and episodic narrative, maintaining that it rests on assumptions concerning human experience and its literary representation that can be explored in philosophical terms. It introduces what is known of the author and the creation of her work in the early-eleventh-century Heian period imperial court, together with the intellectual and religious traditions, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shinto, that informed attitudes to life in the contemporary world.

Keywords:   Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu, Heian court, Sino-Japanese cultural relations, ritual, Buddhism, spirit possession, Japanese mythology, the position of women

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