Focus: “Literary-ness” in the Tale of Genji

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Focus: “Literary-ness” in the Tale of Genji

· The Tale of Genji has some metafictional elements, especially towards the end. Metafiction is a style of writing that draws attention to the writing process through:

· examining fictional systems

· incorporating aspects of both theory and criticism

· creating biographies of imaginary writers

· presenting and discussing fictional works of an imaginary character (“Metafiction (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.” from SUNY: Geneseo)

· Tale of Genji mostly engages with the first and last bullet points: examining fictional systems and presenting and discussing fictional works of an imaginary character

· Consider the scene between Genji and his daughter, Tamakazura in Chapter XXV, pp 1486-88. Genji explains:

On the one hand, we may know that it’s all silly, but we’re still fascinated and affected by the fiction. When we read about some lovely princess lost in troubled thoughts, we are drawn to her story…or when we encounter a tale that makes us wonder uncertainly if what it describes is really plausible or proper, we are nonetheless surprised and amazed that it can be told with such marvelous exaggeration (Norton 1486).

· This section is a commentary on the role of fiction in story-telling. Do you agree that fiction can draw readers in and amaze them? Can you think of any instances when you preferred reading something fictional (not true) over something non-fictional (true/facts-based)? 

· Later in this section, Genji develops a theory for the role of fiction in history and storytelling. He tells Tamakazura:

A story may not relate things exactly as they happened out of consideration for the circumstances of its characters. Yet at those moments when one wants to pass on to later generations the appearance and condition of people living in the present … both the good and the bad … If you want to be upright and proper, then you will select only the good details to relate. Or if you want to play to people’s baser interests, then you will compile the strange and wondrous details of bad behavior. But in either case you will always be speaking about things of this world (Norton 1486-87).

· Keeping the quotation above in mind, do you think Tale of Genji portrays the good details or “the strange and wondrous details of bad behavior”? Which characters “seem good” and which ones “seem bad”?

250 word summary requirement

Submit a 250-word summary of your class notes here. Your notes should NOT be a word-for-word transcription of what you find in this section. Instead, your notes must: 

1. Address key terms or topics that came up in the course module.

2. Explain how you think the assigned readings tie-in. Make sure to include the primary reading!

3. Provide two links to reputable sites that clarify, extend, or correct s something you encountered in the course this week. Your links must be accompanied by a summary and evaluation of their content.

1. To evaluate the content, you must ask yourself: 

1. Is the author easily identifiable? Can you locate information on the author’s credentials? IF NOT, then the information is less credible.

2. Does the content include links to outside material? Do the links lead to other credible sites? IF NOT, then the information is less credible.

3. Does the site have a “last updated” statement? When is it? If it was last updated a long time ago OR does not have a time-stamp, then the information is less credible. 

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