Asian Culture and Arts - 2005-2006




Fall Quarter Activities - Week Seven



The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, trans. by Edward G. Seidensticker. NY: Vintage, 1990 (note! This is the ABRIDGED version).

Essay Questions for The Tale of Genji Choose one of the following questions and develop your discussion in 5-page paper.

1. All the women seem to be pleased at their good fortune in being chosen by or to have had a chance to be close to such a "shining prince." However, in reality, didn't their hardships start without exception right after their encounters with Genji? This is certainly true of Fujitsubo. Consider Lady Rokujo with her pride and jealousy, and Akashi with her despair and resignation born of an awareness of her social position. Even Murasaki, who enjoyed Genji's deepest care and attention, didn't know how to overcome her distrust and despair over Genji and the uncertainties of life itself. Were they not all struggling, each in her own individual way, and fighting against their miseries? They were all searching for a solution to their lives. Choose your favorite female character/chapter and discuss her nature and the way she relates to Genji. How does she come to terms with the relationship in her particular given circumstances?

2. Was Genji happy or fulfilled by seeking out women one after another? What were the consequences of Genji's amorous nature? From the beginning he was made conscious of sin by his relationship with Fujitsubo. Longing for her, his mind was never content or serene. He looked for her image in all the women with whom he had a close relationship and brought young Murasaki to his palace to raise her as an ideal woman. But could he make her happy or could he become happy? Having all the attractive women and presided over by Murasaki in pretentious harmony at his Rokujo palace, was he truly content and his mind in peace? Examine Genji's journey through women and his changes through the course of time. Was the work an indictment of men's amorous nature and a system, which seemed to give it free rein?

3. In The Tale of Genji, some characters are developed with contrasting nature and behaviors. Genji and To-no-chujo are good rivals. At the same time, looking for the same image of someone who is important seems to be one of the themes throughout the story as we observe in the case of Fujitsubo and Murasaki. Choose some relationship and discuss their similarities and differences in their nature and ways of life in relation to the development of the story.

4. In The Tale of Genji, poems play important roles in developing stories and conveying the emotions of the scenes. Choose some examples of these scenes and discuss the way poems contribute, express, or heighten the emotions of the characters in relation to the development of the story.

5. In The Tale of Genji, nowhere is it mentioned that the "manifestation" is that of the Rokujo lady. All we have is an intimation that this may be the case. The "manifestation" appears in Genji's dream as a vision, or a phanatom, as if a creature of Genji's inner thoughts. Examine the nature of Rokujo's turmoil and discuss why she was obsessed that much to possess Yugao and Aoi. Examine what qualities of Rokujo intrigued the author of Noh play, Aoi, and discuss Mishima's interpretation of Rokujo.

Tuesday, November 8

10-12: Com 110 (Roy), Com 341 (Williams), Com 326 (Tsutsumi) and Com 210 (Jang)

Workshops on language and arts; note: Tsutsumi-sensei's classes begin at 11:00.

1-4: Com 107 - Lecture: The Court at its Zenith (Setsuko Tsutsumi) with film: The Tale of Genji (animation)

Wednesday, November 2

10-12: Com 310 (Tsutsumi), Com 320 (Roy), Com 323 (Jang), Com 338 (Williams)

Seminars on themes introduced by The Tale of Genji

1-3: rehearsals, films, and independent practice on your own

Thursday, November 3

10-12: Com 110 (Roy), Com 341 (Williams), Com 326 (Tsutsumi) and Com 210 (Jang)

Workshops on language and arts

1-4: Lecture Hall 3 - Lecture: Narrative Scroll (Setsuko Tsutsumi) with film: The Genji Scrolls Reborn.

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