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Murasaki Shikibu Writing Styles in The Tale of Genji

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The Tale of Genji

does not meet many of the classical requirements of an epic. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature defines epic as, "Long narrative poem in an elevated style that celebrates heroic achievement and treats themes of historical, national, religious or legendary signifi-cance." It goes on to report, "The main aspects of epic convention are the centrality of a hero—sometimes semi divine—of military, national, or religious importance; an extensive, perhaps even cosmic, geographical setting; heroic battle; extended and often exotic journeying; and the involvement of supernatural beings, such as gods, angels, or demons, in the action."

The Tale of Genji is written in prose, not verse. The hero and the setting are completely mortal, more realistic than cosmic. It is a time of peace and tranquility.

The quintessential epic tales—such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey—tell of great war heroes. Genji never brandishes a weapon...

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This section contains 1,206 words
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Buy The Tale of Genji Study Guide
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The Tale of Genji from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.