Egawa Tatsuya (b. 1961)
The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari), vol. 3
Japan, 2003
Paperback book (manga); ink and color on paper
Copyright: Egawa Tatsuya
Anonymous gift

Often hailed as the first novel in Japanese literature, The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari), written by Murasaki Shikibu (c. 973–c. 1014) in the early 11th century, chronicles the romantic adventures of Genji, the illegitimate son of the Emperor. Murasaki’s elegant writing style veils the mature nature of her story so successfully that, six centuries later, the proprietors of the Yoshiwara were inspired to model aspects of their brothel district after it. Egawa’s illustrated adaptation of the Tale of Genji, however, strips the story of its elegant veneer and represents it as a series of androcentric, erotic fantasies.

’[Genji] became aware of one odd detail after another in the sleeping figure, and guessed what had happened. How very stupid! And how ridiculous he would seem if the sleeper were to awaken and see that she was the victim of a silly mistake.’

-Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji, p. 53. Trans. by Edward Seidensticker.

In order to spare Nokiba-no-ogi embarrassment, Genji makes love to her under the pretense that he has been secretly pursuing her.