The first modern novel

Many will probably be surprised to find out that the book that is considered to be the first modern novel is of Japanese origin and written in the early 11th century. This is The Tale Of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, a woman no less, which is even more rarer for those ancient times. In Japan it is put on par with Homeros and Shakespeare and also in the rest of the world of literature it is considered to be a classic. Although it is thought that the work was completed around 1008, the first mention of a complete edition being available stems from the year 1021.

It is actually a very complex book. Most translations have attempted to help the reader to keep trace of the hundreds of characters in the book. The original version is about 1000 pages long. As such one will find many abridged versions that pick out the best parts. The version I purchased is such an abridged version, just over 300 pages long, covering the first third of the book. Maybe I will obtain the complete version some time later.

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