Book Club - The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

Book Cover

What better selection for the book club than the first novel of all time? And of course, we have to read the best possible unabridged translation. No baby mode here at GeekNights

The plot revolves around Genji, who is the son of the Emperor and a low ranking concubine. Genji is removed from the line of succession, and proceeds to go on an epic journey. The journey involves tons of romance and court drama. Spicy!

Despite being older than any other novel, The Tale of Genji has a tremendous amount of relevance to the geeks of the 21st century. The influence of Japan on nerds around the world is undeniable, and a surprising amount of things we see in pop culture are present here in a book from the 11th century. I'm quite confident after reading it how we will notice how many newer stories have been making references to this tale without us realizing it.

Also, I feel the need to point out that this first novel ever written was written by a woman. For all these reasons and so many more, this is more than worthy of book club selection.

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If you don’t want to buy it, it’s public domain. Internet Archive has it here:


This free version has an intro by Tyler but the actual translation is by Seidensticker.

I’m torn between going digital/Kindle or physical. The paperback is deckle edge, which is annoying. The hardcover has a normal, cut edge.

I actually own this book! I haven’t sat down to read it yet however, it’s under Infinite Jest in my stack >>

Deckle edge is the devil’s edge.

The bad kind of devil.

Very nice read and also very interesting. Can’t say about english translations, got two diferent versions in spanish. This weekend I’ll start re-reading it. You guys are such a good influence. :slight_smile:

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Serious business.

Five chapters in, The Tale of Genji is a soap opera.

This defunct tumblr has amusing chapter summaries for the first twenty chapters.


Saw this tweet. Haven’t read the book yet so no idea of the significance, but figured it needed to be shared here: