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Invitation to World Literature

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The Tale of Genji (30:00)

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The shining Genji, a man of wealth and power, devotes himself to love―at the risk of losing everything. Enter the court of medieval Japan, and follow Genji's attempts to find perfect love and a beautiful life in the midst of the back-biting, scheming, and deceit of the powerful people around him.

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Speakers in the video

Beverly Bryan
Beverly Bryan
Freelance Writer
Ms. Bryan is a freelance writer and avid reader, particularly of The Tale of Genji, which she first read as a teenager.
Patrick Caddeau
Patrick Caddeau
Professor of Japanese Literature, Forbes College, Princeton University
Dr. Caddeau is director of studies at Forbes College, Princeton University. He received his Ph.D. in Japanese literature from Yale University, taught The Tale of Genji in the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton, as well as at Amherst College.
William Collis
William Collis
Student, Harvard Business School
Mr. Collis attended Harvard Business School and studied Japanese literature as an undergraduate student at Amherst College. He composed a rap about The Tale of Genji for a class project and developed a special interest in the novel.
Liza Dalby
Liza Dalby
Author and Anthropologist
Ms. Dalby is an author and anthropologist, and author of The Tale of Murasaki, a fictional account of the life of The Tale of Genji's author, Murasaka Shikibu. She has spent considerable time in Kyoto, Japan, researching Murasaki and other topics and is interested in depicting the material, cultural, and physical attributes of the characters in The Tale of Genji.
David Damrosch
David Damrosch
Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
Dr. Damrosch is professor of comparative literature at Harvard University and the author of several books, including What Is World Literature?
Donald Keene
Donald Keene
Professor of Japanese Literature, Columbia University
Dr. Keene is a preeminent scholar of Japanese literature, and is perhaps the most recognized Japanese literature scholar in the U.S. In his sixty years as a scholar, Dr. Keene worked with respected The Tale of Genji translator Edward Seidensticker and taught The Tale of Genji translator Royall Tyler. Dr. Keene lives in New York City and Tokyo.
Mee-Seen Loong
Mee-Seen Loong
Chinese Art Specialist
Ms. Loong is an art expert specializing in Asian art and a consultant to Sotheby's. She read The Tale of Genji as a student and was transported by the text. According to her, The Tale of Genji is to Japanese art what the Bible is to Western art.
Chiori Miyagawa
Chiori Miyagawa
Playwright
Ms. Miyagawa is a playwright and author of many works including Thousand Years Waiting — a play inspired by The Tale of Genji and a diarist who wrote fawningly about the installments of the book when it was coming out in Heian Japan. She has been a playwright in residence at Bard College. As a girl, Ms. Miyagawa grew up with The Tale of Genji, the book that her mother kept by her bed.
Lynne Miyake
Lynne Miyake
Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures, Pomona College
Dr. Miyake is professor of Asian languages and literatures at Pomona College. She specializes in Manga comic book representations of The Tale of Genji, and has a collection of over twenty-three Manga titles devoted to the story.
Haruo Shirane
Haruo Shirane
Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture, Columbia University
Dr. Shirane is the Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University, and a specialist in pre-modern and early modern Japanese literature. He is one of the foremost The Tale of Genji scholars in the West and has written and edited several books on the subject including: The Bridge of Dreams: Poetics of The Tale of Genji and Envisioning The Tale of Genji: Media, Gender, and Cultural Production.
Jane Smiley
Jane Smiley
Novelist
Ms. Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and the author of more than a dozen novels. She became a student of The Tale of Genji when writing 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. She found refuge in The Tale of Genji after the events of September 11, 2001.