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The Tale of Genji Historical Context

This Study Guide consists of approximately 172 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Tale of Genji.
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Historical Context

Heian Era (794-1186)

The era gets its name from the capital, which in 794 moved from Nara. It occupies the area today known as Kyoto. Heian means "peace and tranquility." The capital was built to accommodate almost exclusively the emperor and the ranked hierarchy of the court. The scope of The Tale of Genji, then, is the refined aristocrats and not the society at large. All that was considered noble, beautiful, and worthwhile resided in the capital. Therefore, Genji's exile to the mountains and his relationship to a country woman would be seen as vulgar.

Genji, adept at all the most refined arts, epitomizes the idealized Heian aristocrat. In a culture that ranked beauty above all else, Genji possessed almost overwhelming charm. His true love, Lady Murasaki, represents the idealized Heian woman. The tale opens during the reign of Emperor Daigo (897-930), an age considered to be the high...

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This section contains 1,494 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Tale of Genji Study Guide
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The Tale of Genji from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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