Japanese history is divided up into four distinct eras, then these eras are further divided into various historical periods. This article gives a short explanation the first two, along with a brief comparison with British history, in order to put the history of Japan in a wider historical context.
Genji Monogatari by Murasaki Shikibu
Genji Monogatari or Tale of Genji is widely regarded as the world’s first novel (surprisingly enough, it is also the world’s first genre novel, belonging firmly to the same category of fiction as a Harlequin romance. I am not sure what that says about writers, literature, and popular taste, but there must be a moral in there somewhere). Written between 998 and 1021 by a Japanese noblewoman known to history as Murasaki Shikibu, it is the most influential work in Japanese literary history and is arguably one of the great pieces of world literature. One of the reasons that the book is so well-regarded is that it gives us a detailed view of life during this period. Even though Genji is a work of fiction, it affords us a better view of the day-to-day life of the Heian upper class than any other source. Continue reading
Before HEIKE and After: HOGEN, HEIJI, JOKYUKI translated by Royall Tyler. This is a translation of three tales, the Hogen monogotari, Heike monogatari, and Jokyuki. These tales are traditional histories of events that happened between 1156 and 1221 covering the fall of the Japanese court and the rise of the Samurai. Our book, Dig Two Graves, occurs during the Hogen Rebellion and so we have relied on the Hogen monogotari as source material. Continue reading