Murasaki Shikibu

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In this Japanese name, the family name is Murasaki.
Murasaki Shikibu with male court poets

Murasaki Shikibu (紫式部?, c. 973 – c. 1020) was a novelist, poet, and servant of the Imperial Court during the Heian period of Japan.[1] She is well known as the author of The Tale of Genji, written around year 1003.

Murasaki Shikibu is a nickname; her real name is unknown.[2][3]

Life[change | edit source]

Murasaki was born in Kyoto.[4] She was born into the Fujiwara family.[2] Her father, Fujiwara Tametoki, was not a very nice father and when Murasaki got older he confessed that he regretted she was not a boy.[3]

In the year 997, Murasaki married her second cousin, Fujiwara Nobutake, at age 20.[5] In 999, they had a daughter, Kenshi, who also became a poet. Fujiwara Nobutake died about 1001.

Murasaki started as a writer soon after her husband's unexpected death. She was recognized immediately, and she was asked to the imperial court as a tutor to Empress Shoshi ( Joto Mon'in, 988–1074), daughter of the statesman Fujiwara Michinaga (966–1027).[3] Murasaki joined the court of Empress Shōshi in 1006, probably for her skills as an author.

Murasaki started writing her diary in 1008, and finished in 1010. Her diary describes her Chinese lessons with her brother Nobunori (980?–1011),[5] daily life and how much she missed her husband after his death.[6][7][8][9]

She died in Kyoto, around the year 1020.

The Tale of Genji[change | edit source]

The Tale of Genji is split into 54 different books, and is made up of 795 different poems. It is one of the earliest novels in Japanese, and is often thought of as the first novel in the world. It is a classic of Japanese literature. The masterpiece was about the court life of Prince Genji, and his wife, Aoi in 10th-century Japan. Prince Genji was the illegitimate son of an emperor, and the text is about his relationships in court. The Tale of Genji included many beautiful scroll paintings.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Rodd, Laurel Rasplica. "Murasaki Shikibu." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bialo, Ellen. "Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Bargen, Doris G. "Murasaki Shikibu." Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Karen Christensen and David Levinson, eds. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. Biography in Context.
  4. "Shikibu Murasaki." Merriam Webster's Biographical Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995. Biography in Context. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Murasaki Shikibu". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.
  6. "The Tale of Genji scroll." Image. Instructional Resources Corporation. World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  7. "Murasaki Shikibu: passage from chapter 1 of The Tale of Genji." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  8. "Murasaki Shikibu: passage on death by possession from The Tale of Genji." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  9. "Murasaki Shikibu writes." Image. Instructional Resources Corporation. World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.