Monogatari : A Historical Analysis

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Genji Monogatari: A Historical Analysis
Genji Monogatari, or as it is known in the Western world, the Tale of Genji, is considered one of Japan’s greatest literary works. Murasaki Shikibu, the story’s disputed author, was a noblewoman with ties to the Fujiwara clan, the ruling house at the time. She is said to have written the story as a form of entertain her contemporaries (Waley). Due to Genji’s noble birth, the majority of the characters introduced in the story are the elite members of society. The monogatari’s cast list consists of the Emperor, military leaders, governors, and their various wives and mistresses. It is in essence the a list of the of the most powerful people of the time period. It is due to both Murasaki Shikibu’s and Genj Hikaru’s noble births, many scholars consider Genji Mongatari as a reliable source for the habits and behaviors of the Heian Court. The insight the tale gives about the social structure, the relationships and even the religious practices is massive.
The Heian lords seemed to be split among five ranks. The top three ranks were the high court nobles. This was the group that spent its time with and around the Emperor. The fourth and fifth ranks were the provincial governor. This group was seen inferior not only because their lower status but also due to the fact that many had a more ‘countrified’ dialect and speech patterns. The fourth and fifth rank nobles usually spent a large amount of time away from the capital due to administrative

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