Quotes

Friday Quick Quote: Murasaki Shikibu’s ‘The Tale of Genji’

“We are not told of things that happened to specific people exactly as they happened; but the beginning is when there are good things and bad things, things that happen in this life which one never tires of seeing and hearing about, things which one cannot bear not to tell of and must pass on for all generations. If the storyteller wishes to speak well, then he chooses the good things; and if he wishes to hold the reader’s attention he chooses bad things, extraordinarily bad things. Good things and bad things alike, they are things of this world and no other.

Writers in other countries approach the matter differently.

Old stories in our own are different from new. There are differences in the degree of seriousness. But to dismiss them as lies is itself to depart from the truth. Even in the writ which the Buddha drew from his noble heart are parables, devices for pointing obliquely at the truth. To the ignorant they may seem to operate at cross purposes. The Greater Vehicle is full of them, but the general burden is always the same. The difference between enlightenment and confusion is of about the same order as the difference between the good and the bad in a romance. If one takes the generous view, then nothing is empty and useless.”

– Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji

Tale of Genji.jpg

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4 thoughts on “Friday Quick Quote: Murasaki Shikibu’s ‘The Tale of Genji’

  1. So much wisdom in this quote ” If the storyteller wishes to speak well, then he chooses the good things; and if he wishes to hold the reader’s attention he chooses bad things, extraordinarily bad things.” Thank you for sharing!

    You might enjoy reading The Tale of Murasaki. It is a brilliantly detailed examination of the woman, and the culture, who created Gengi. Two thumbs up!

    Liked by 1 person

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