21 September, 2020

My Favourite Book

My Favourite Book
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I read it many years ago, but it made a deep impact on me: The Tale of Genji, by Lady Murasaki. This is the first of the important Japanese pillow books - a thick tome that doesn't promise an easy read. It's so huge that reading it was physically difficult. In fact, many Japanese friends react with surprise when I tell them that I'd read it, even if in translation. I loved the huge woodcut illustrations that accompanied the text, too. It was a present from my husband to me, though I no longer have it: I bought a copy, someone borrowed it, then I bought another copy, but in the wrong translation. I read it in 1981, before I wrote Paro.

But The Tale of Genji is a fascinating read. It documents a period of social change in Japan through the story of Genji, a samurai. It's a lot like War and Peace: it has hundreds of characters, but each of them is fleshed out, which I found particularly useful as a novelist. It also shows the first movement of Buddhism, another area that interests me.

Another writer who's engulfed me is Dostoevsky, whom I read as a young...

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