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THE TALE OF GENJI

Read me first!

Here are some words that you should


familiarize yourself with before reading/viewing
this selection.

hostility n. - deeply upset and agitated


liaison n. - quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on;
submissive
naive adj. - (of a person or action) showing a lack of
experience, wisdom, or judgment.

ABOUT THE STORY

The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) is an 11th Century classic Japanese novel written
by a Heian court lady known as Murasaki Shikibu. Written 1,000 years ago, the story has 54
chapters and over 1,000 pages of text in its English translation. It is generally considered to be
the world's first true novel, and was certainly the first psychological novel ever written.

Before reading the selection, write on the space provided below at least three
questions based on the title of the story. Questions could include what you would like to know
about the plot, the characters or the events that would transpire in the story. After writing your
questions, your teacher will ask you to share what you have written and will discuss the answers
to your questions after you finish reading the story.
There was once a time when one of the Ladies of the
Imperial Court became the special favorite of the Emperor
and bore him a healthy baby boy. This was much to the upset
of the other ladies who, through their continuous jealousy
and hostility, made the favored lady quite ill. Eventually all
the tormenting drove her to an early grave.

The beautiful boy grew up and seemed destined to


become the Crown Prince. However, because he lacked the
backing of powerful guardians at the Court, the Emperor
knew he would not be happy as Crown Prince. So, instead, he
appointed him as one of his retainers and gave him the name, Genji. From then on he was known
as 'Hikaru Genji' (The 'Shining'jGenji).

When Genji was still very young, the Emperor took a new wife, named Fujitsubo, a lady
who bore an uncanny resemblance to the tragic lady who had been Genji's mother. Genji's
longing for the mother he had never really known led to an infatuation for Fujitsubo which, some
years later, resulted in her conceiving a child by Genji (the future Emperor Reizei). (This illicit
affair was one that haunted Genji for the rest of his life).

While Genji was married to a lady called Aoi no Ue, later in the story he happened to
meet a young girl called Murasaki no Ue who, it turned out, was Fujitsubo's niece. She was living
in pitiful circumstances so Genji took her away to raise her so that one day she might make a
perfectslady.

As well as the ladies already mentioned, Genji romantically pursued many women
including the widow of the former Crown Prince, a married woman, a lady who was his best
friend's lover, a very naive Princess, and an old maid of nearly 60. Perhaps most surprisingly, Genji
also romanced the daughter of his main politically enemy. His love for the ladies in his life was
always pure and sincere but connected to his unfulfilled longing for the beautiful mother he had
lost so young.

Around the time when his brother the Emperor Suzaku succeeded his father as Emperor,
Genji was forced to leave Kyoto and into exile in a remote area near to present-day Kobe. The
fall from grace was the result of his scandalous affair with the daughter of one of his political
enemies. He spent his exile quietly but, nevertheless, pursued a new romance, having an affair
with Akashi no Kimi, the daughter of another Kyoto aristocrat. This relationship also resulted in
a child, this time a girl. When his brother abdicated as Emperor, Genji's son became the new
Emperor (Emperor Reizei). As a result, Genji quickly recovered his political power, becoming a
Minister and walking the path of a highly influential politician.
Genji built a palatial mansion, known as 'The Rokujo Estate'
Think About It!
invited all his ladies to live with him and seemingly achieved an
almost ideal lifestyle. However, after he decided to take a new • Imagine being a lady that
lady, known as 'Onna San no Miya' as his wife, life at the Rokujo has caught the interest of
the charismatic Genji.
Estate began to lose its luster. She was the daughter of Genji's
Would you have given in to
dying brother, the Emperor Suzaku and the complicated personal his advances knowing he has
relations between all his ladies became a nuisance. He was no a history of several affairs
longer a young man. Even more unfortunate was that a young man under his belt?
named Kashiwagi, the son of Genji's best friend, seduced the • Where do you think does
somewhat naive Onna San no Miya. The result of this liaison was a his love for women stem
child, a boy named Kaoru, who later became the central character from?
in the closing 'The Ten Uji Chapters'. Genji felt he only had himself
• Do you think things would
to blame and that fate was punishing him. He too, in his younger have been different had his
days, had illicitly fathered a child, the baby born to Fujitsubo and mother only lived?
the boy that became the Emperor Reizei. The irony left such a deep
wound in his heart that he decided to go into self-exile.

It is at this point in the 'Tale' that the story of Genji himself ends and the narrative jumps
to the final section, a time after Genji's death, set in the city of Uji, and follows two protagonists.
One of them was Kaoru, Genji's youngest child, reportedly the exact likeness of his father and
the other was Niou no Miya, Genji's grandson. The last ten chapters also involve three beautiful
ladies and depict the sad love stories that befall all these characters.

Comprehension Check

I. Directions: Encircle the letter of the best answer.

1. What was The Tale of Genji?

A. A Japanese film about World War II.


B. A classic Japanese novel about the samurai warriors.
C. A series of short poems about Japanese philosophy.
D. The first great work of literature from Japan about life in the Imperial court.

2. Who was Lady Murasaki Shikibu?

A. The author of the Tale of Genji.


B. The mother of Genji who dies when he is young.
C. The wife of Genji who catches him having an affair.
D. A concubine and main character who is in love with Genji.
3. What is the plot of The Tale of Genji?

A. Seven samurai, including Genji, must work together to fight off an evil warlord.
B. The story follows Genji's life without a central event or motivation.
C. A fox demon takes the form of a woman named Kiritsubo who bewitches the emperor
before Genji saves him.
D. A giant monster rises from the ocean and terrorizes Tokyo, Genji must stop him.

4. Where does Genji’s love for the ladies of his life stem from?

A. A psychological disorder
B. A curse that a witch has casted on him
C. His longing for his deceased mother’s love
D. A rebellion to his father for stripping him of the title Crown Prince

5. What made Genji decide to go into self-exile?

A. The guilt of breaking Murasaki’s heart


B. His commitment of a murder inside the Court
C. The irony of the events that happened to him and his father
D. His longing to go on a journey to find himself and what he truly wants

II. Directions: Answer the questions briefly using at least two to three sentences.

1. Do you think Genji was overall a happy person? Explain your answer.
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________.

2. If you were Genji’s friend, would you tolerate his actions? Explain.
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________.

3. How do you usually handle the consequences of your own actions?


______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________.
Knowledge Enhancer

Have you ever encountered a misunderstanding caused by your misinterpretation of


some words uttered by the person you were talking to or vice versa? It causes inconvenience not
to have your message delivered across your listeners. You even feel confused, yourself, when you
do not understand what a speaker is trying to say even if the structures of his sentences are
grammatically correct.

Basically, the full conveyance of your message heavily relies in the manner that you
deliver it to your listeners. The best way that you can achieve this is for you to go on a quest to
seek knowledge of the prosodic features of speech or what we call suprasegmentals. The proper
use of stress, intonation and pauses will surely enable you to communicate better and let you
avoid misunderstandings with your listeners.

Listen to the words that your teacher will dictate.


Write each of them down on the table below and take note
Let’s start learning!
which syllable in the words will the voice of your teacher raise.

Did you take note which syllables the voice of your teacher raised? Those syllables are
what we actually call stress.

Stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word. It makes
that syllable stand out above its adjacent syllables or words. It can either be a word stress or a
sentence stress.

In word stress, there is what we call the primary and the secondary stress. For example,
we have the word a-NON-y-MOUS-ly. The primary stress is in NON, while the secondary stress is
in MOUS. You will mostly encounter this in words that have three or more syllables. Be sure to
keep in mind the distinction in the primary and secondary stress of the words when you happen
to come across them.
In some cases, you will run into words that could mean different things depending on how
it is used in a sentence.

Take a look at the examples in the table


Nouns Verbs
of nouns and verbs. The words in each row have
the same spelling. What sets them apart is the Re’cord Record’
way that the stress is placed on specific syllables In’sult Insult’
of the words. This, in turn, makes emphasis on Up’date Update’
its intended meaning. Con’duct Conduct’

Try this out!

Think of at least five words that could either be a noun or a verb and put a
stress on the right syllable in order to set them apart. Find a partner to exchange
your set of words with and then create ten sentences using the set of words that
you got from your partner. Write five sentences each for both the noun and verb
function of the words.

By now, you should be able to understand how stress is used in words to create an
emphasis and convey its appropriate meaning. Great job! That means that we could proceed with
quest for the next prosodic feature.

As we have discussed earlier, the manner of how you deliver your message is important
for your audience to fully grasp your ideas, thoughts and insights. But in your delivery, stress is
not the only prosodic feature that you should be considering.

Listen as your teacher read the poem below twice, differentiating the way she reads it the
second time. Focus on the way that the voice of your teacher rises and falls as she reads.

A summer river being crossed


how pleasing
with sandals in my hands!
-Yosa Buson

Notice that in the first reading, there was no rise and fall in the voice of your teacher. On
the other hand, your teacher’s voice rose and fell in the second reading. Were you able to get
the message of the poem? In which reading were you able to do so?
The first reading of your teacher could be comparable to that of a robot. A robot’s voice
does not rise nor does it fall. When you talk monotonously, your message could get
misinterpreted by your audience. If you uttered the sentence “Our house is burning!” using that
way of speaking, people might think that you are just playing around and would most probably
not come to your aid. That is what makes intonation a very important prosodic feature.

The rise and fall of the voice along the line of sound is what we call intonation. A rise in
the sound of our voice indicates a yes/no question. That rise in our voice is what we call rising
intonation.

Example: Do you know what time our professor is going to arrive?

Incomplete thoughts also end in rising intonation.

Example: I have so many idol groups in Japan that I love! There are Arashi, AKB48, Hey!
Say! Jump!...

On the other hand, we have the falling intonation. It is the most commonly used tone of
all. It signals all sense of finality, completion, belief in the content of the utterance, and so on.

Example: I will not be late tomorrow.

Here are some of the things you should remember:

 Wh-word questions: falling intonation


 Yes/No questions: rising
 Statements: falling
 Question-Tags: 'chat' - falling; 'check' - rising
 Lists: rising, rising, rising, falling

Try this out!

Using any type of recording device, Cherry blossom trees, or the Sakura
record your voice as you read the trees, only bloom for 3-5 days in
following: Spring.
You’re planning to go there, aren’t
What do you find appealing
you? (check)
about the Japanese culture?
Make sure to buy me a pair of shoes,
Do you like eating sushi?
a hat, a cute bag and a keychain.

Once you’re already satisfied with how you sounded, you can confidently communicate
better now! Good work!
Vocabulary Builder

III. Directions: Supply the missing words in the sentences using the items in the word bank.
Write your answers on the space provided for each number.

Ex’ports || Exports’
Es’cort || Escort’
Per’mit || Permit’
Pre’sent || Present’
Con’tract || Contract’

1. She was asked to come back on Thursday for the ____________-signing.


2. The bouncer of the club had to ____________ the troublemaker out of the premises.
3. The students will ______________ a short play.
4. We were told that a _____________ was needed before we could hold a rally here.
5. My aunt _____________ goods that are produced in her farm.

Apply What You Learned!

IV. Directions: Follow the instructions below.

1. Divide the class to form four groups.


2. Each group will be assigned four different tasks that will reflect
the life of Genji. The following are the tasks assigned to each
group: Criteria for Scoring
A. The first group: debate on whether Genji’s actions were Organization: 3 pts.
justified Content: 3 pts.
B. The second group: perform a speech choir
Relevance: 4 pts.
C. The third group: conduct an interview on a make-
Creativity: 5 pts.
believe TV talk show ----------------------------
D. The last group: perform a short play Total: 15 pts.
3. Each group is allowed five minutes, tops, to present.
4. Use proper stress and intonation to effectively convey meaning.