UBC Theses and Dissertations
Concealment and revelation in the two worlds of Genji monogatari : an analysis and translation of the "hanachirusato" chapter and the introductory portion of the "suma" chapter Leduc, Jeannette Marie
"Genji monogatari" ("The Tale of Genji")is a romance consisting of fifty-four chapters. It was written during the golden age of the Heian period, around, or shortly after, 1000 A.D. by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting serving at the imperial court. The tale depicts the life of a hero, Prince Genji, from boyhood to manhood and old age. Following his death the story relates the rivalry between Genji's grandson, Prince Niou, and his friend, Kaoru, believed by the world to be Genji's son. The long, episodic nature of "Genji", along with certain structural aspects, have led some scholars to call the tale a romance. A further justification for this assertion is that the action of "Genji" revolves a-round two worlds. One is the idyllic, social world in which all the characters participate. The events which occur in this world—festivals, religious rituals, games, contests, music, and poetry—comprise the external world. Underlying the external action is another world—one of inner conflict, mental suffering, and uncertainty. This hidden, subjective world forms the internal world of "Genji". The action of the tale progresses when the concealed emotions, identities, and behaviour of individual characters are revealed and thus transposed into the external world. In "Genji" it can be shown that the internal world is externalized through the use of conventions that maybe related to a universal concept of romance. These conventions include the use of the archetypal hero and other character types, natural symbolism and cyclical time, social rituals, and the romantic quest. In "Genji" of things concealed works to create a sense of anticipation and foreboding leading to the real and emotional storm at the end of "Suma". By explicating the function of concealment and revelation in "Hanachirusato" and in the introductory portion of "Suma", in terms of conventions derived from romance, it can be seen that these two segments are important in unifying the general romantic structure of "Genji monogatari" the means through which the characters express their inner feelings are the waka verses interspersed throughout the text. Finally, irony, fear, and pathos in the theme of tragic descent and the absurd in the theme of comic ascent are elements of romance which perform a vital role in revealing the internal world of "Genji". Chapter One of this thesis is intended to show, within the framework of romance, that the real and controlling action of "Genji" belongs to the internal world of the story, and that the force which impels the story from the beginning to the end is the concealment and revelation of the internal world in relation to what happens extraneously. How the inner structure of "Genji" is organized to ensure the progress of the story, by revealing what is concealed at crucial moments in the narrative, can be illustrated by analysing a small portion of the "Genji" text. Chapter Eleven, "Hanachirusato" ("The Orange Blossoms"), has been described by one scholar as "pointless". On the contrary, a careful analysis of the text indicates that the concealed action of this deceptively simple chapter is vital to the progress of the tale. As a translation and interpretation of the text will demonstrate in Chapter Two of this thesis, "Hanachirusato" performs three important functions in "Genji". First, it reveals the identity of Reikeiden as a major character type. Secondly, the inner action makes "Hanachirusato" a transitional chapter, in which the hero, Genji, emerges from boyhood to manhood. Thirdly, in this short chapter may be seen an extension of the recognition theme in Chapter Ten, "Sakaki", where Genji more clearly "sees" the consequences of his actions, and realizes his own identity mirrored in the image of Reikeiden. Although Chapter Twelve, "Suma", is a popular section in "Genji", most attention has been paid to the climactic middle and ending, and little scholarship has been devoted to the less dramatic introductory portion. An exegesis and translation of this small section in Chapter Three of this thesis aims to show how the revelation of things concealed works to create a sense of anticipation and foreboding leading to the real and emotional storm at the end of "Suma". By explicating the function of concealment and revelation in "Hanachirusato" and in the introductory portion of "Suma", in terms of conventions derived from romance, it can be seen that these two segments are important in unifying the general romantic structure of "Genji monogatari".
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