- Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji)
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The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) is a classic work of Japanese literature attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early eleventh century, around the peak of the Heian Period. It is sometimes called the world's first novel, the first modern novel, the first romance novel, or the first novel to still be considered a classic... The Genji was written for the women of the aristocracy (the yokibito) and has many elements found in a modern novel: a central character and a very large number of major and minor characters, well-developed characterization of all the major players, a sequence of events happening over a period of time covering the central character's lifetime and beyond. The work does not make use of a plot; instead, much as in real life, events just happen and characters evolve simply by growing older. One remarkable feature of the Genji, and of Murasaki's skill, is its internal consistency, despite a dramatis personae of some four hundred characters. For instance, all characters age in step and all the family and feudal relationships are consistent among all chapters. NOTE: this is a highly condensed version of the text, running to just under 200 pages, whereas the original is nearly 1000 pages long!