The Tale of Genji
01 The Paulownia Pavilion

Early illustrations for chapter 1 ("Kiritsubo")

Chapter 1 - Text editions


Song of Unending Sorrow / Song of Everlasting Sorrow

Note that Tyler follows the modern Pinyin romanization of Chinese. The older Wade-Giles system is found in the Seidensticker Genji. To check reference works and the web, it is helpful to know both, just as you know both Beijing/Peking. In the notes below, Pinyin is given first, with Wade-Giles in parenthesis.

"In the skies we shall be twin birds that fly together,
On earth we shall be trees with branches intertwined.
Heaven is enduring, earth long living, but they shall perish,
The everlasting sorrow will never come to an end."

Emperor Xuanzong (Hsan Tsung) (685762)

  • Chinese emperor of Tang dynasty, the "Song of Unending Sorrow"
  • Columbia encyclopedia
  • hagi: Japanese "bush clover"

    General comments on sets of illustrations. Whenever possible links below are to a general index or introduction.

    The Edo woodblock illustrations mentioned above -- monochrome illustrations from a early printed edition, the E-iri Genji Monogatari of 1650 -- can be found conveniently together with chapter summaries by Mari Nagase on Unesco's "Global Heritage Pavilion" site. They are also reproduced in the Seidensticker translation.

    Illustrations from the mid-18th century scroll (emaki) at Dartmouth University mentioned above, an anonymous work now in the Hood Museum. Illustrations from chapters 1-16 are reproduced online. In some cases, chapters are illustrated by two illustrations. The relevant passage is given from the original and in Prof. Eiji Shibuya's modern Japanese translation. Website by Mayumi Ishida.

    Edo-period illustrations. On site of Dr. Gerald Figal, Delaware. No source given (a shame), but nice use of close up details, three or four for each illustrations. These are clues to help you identify the scene. Chapters 1, 4, 9, 12, 13.

    modern Japanese artists (Kyoto Prefecture). Varied in quality, but of interest. Usually the same scene is chosen to illustrate as in early illustrations. There are two series of pages for all 54 chapters, English and Japanese. Both have plot descriptions--the English is good but don't rely on these too much!--but only the Japanese chapter page gives further information: the kaisetsu link goes to a page about the scene in the picture, with quotation and explanation, while the link in purple takes you to a passage in the Oshima manuscript, with careful modern transcription.

    Modern woodblock prints by Miyata Kaori. Series of 11 (2001). The chapter titles are given in kana, so that you can refer to the romanized names in this index. Murata's illustrations are tasteful enough but typical of many unadventurous modern versions--there are more avant-guard illustrations as well as countless versions in manga style or worse. See if you can find some good and bad examples.

    Many web sites exist to sell Edo woodblock prints. Unfortunately for teachers looking for links that last, the illustrations disappear when the prints are sold! Example:

    M.G.Watson. 2002.09. Return to GENJI top.