Cover image for The tale of Genji : legends and paintings
The tale of Genji : legends and paintings
Murase, Miyeko.
Publication Information:
New York : G. Braziller, 2001.
Physical Description:
vii, 136 pages : color illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
54 paintings from the Burke albums "attributed to Tosa Mitsuoki (1617-1691) ... however, they were more likely done by an anonymous artist of the Tosa school." Cf. Introduction, p. 2.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND1059.6.G4 T35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



One of Japan's greatest literary masterpieces is brought to life through 54 colorful and detailed images that each illustrate one chapter of the novel.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The renowned 11th-century Japanese literary masterpiece is receiving great attention these days (see PW Interview, Aug. 20). Here it is paid elegant tribute in The Tale of Genji: Paintings and Legends, introduced by Miyeko Murase (Bridge of Dreams), professor emerita at Columbia University and research curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Murasaki Shikibu, a 30-year-old woman, wrote the story in 54 chapters made up of 795 31-syllable poems; the full English translation exceeds 1,000 pages. The tale has captivated Japanese artists and has been rendered, variously and often, over the centuries. Murase presents one of the most famous series of paintings, called the Burke albums, initially attributed to the 17th-century master Tosa Mitsuoki, though Miyase finds reason to believe the series is the work of an anonymous painter of the Tosa school. The delicate, gold-inked illustrations (one for each chapter) appear alongside a summarized version of the story. Murase's excellent, accessible scholarship will give readers a deeper understanding of traditional Japanese painting. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Written by Murasaki Shikibu, "The Shining Prince" Genji's favorite consort in the 11th century, The Tale of Genji ranks among the world's greatest works of romantic prose narrative. This volume of miniature paintings represents the epitome of traditional Genji iconography as established by the Tosa School in the 17th century, the most familiar visual vocabulary of Genji illustrations. These images make up one of the finest and most complete sets existing to illustrate this literary masterpiece. The 54 full-page color reproductions capture the aristocratic sophistication of the Heian court, re-creating the ideals of that introspective society. Murase, a renowned scholar at Columbia University and a research curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, provides a historical overview of the tale, the author, the literary atmosphere, and the uniqueness of these illustrations. Commentaries on each of the images briefly summarized the scene depicted on each painting. Exquisitely made, this volume is a delight to hold and to read, and it will make an excellent companion to Royall Tyler's new translation of the epic (LJ 9/15/01). Recommended to both public and academic libraries. Lucia S. Chen, New York P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This slight volume, primarily a picture book with narrative text to accompany each picture, replicates exactly, including the precise measurements of picture area and page, the model--a two-volume set of paintings illustrating the Genji Monogatari, produced in the late 17th century and currently belonging to Mary Griggs Burke. It is the product of the artistic output of the Tosa workshop, for which pictures on this theme was stock-in-trade. The novel's popularity was legendary since it was first written around 1000 CE, and the pictures reproduced here demonstrate the conventional visual terminology associated with the Tosa group. Some 54 pictures, one per chapter, together with a narrative text for each, echo the pairing of writing and picture that distinguished the earliest known set of Genji paintings (currently in the Gotoh Museum and the Reimeikai Foundation collections) and provide a historically authentic sense for the intermeshing of word and image in the celebration of its theme. There is an introductory essay on the history of Genji illustration and a list of characters who populate the narrative, with concise, useful information about each. But the pictures, handsomely reproduced, and the stories are left to exercise their charm on the reader/viewer on their own. Not a scholarly book. General readers. D. K. Dohanian University of Rochester