The most famous work of Japanese literature is the eleventh-century masterpiece 'Tale Of Genji' by a woman of the imperial court. Out of the life and work of Murasaki Shikibu, arguably the world's first novelist, Liza Dalby has woven a delicate and irresistible fiction.
In a wonderful world shaped by beauty and poetry, ancient traditions and popular intrigue, this is the story of a young woman at the centre of the eleventh-century Japanese Imperial court, observing the exotic world around her. Murasaki sees everything, the Emperor and Empress, aristocrats and concubines, warriors and servants, her own family. She records a remarkable place of political and sexual plotting, male power and female manipulation, as she writes the 'Tale Of Genji'.
Piecing together existing fragments of diary and poems, Liza Dalby has framed Murasaki's words and images in a gorgeous work of literary archaeology, where the subtle reconstruction blends with eleventh-century sensibilities, manners, fashions and preoccupations, and includes the imaginary lost final chapter of Murasaki's magnum opus. The result is a vivid portrait of the woman and the times that were the most splendid in Japanese history.