Tale of Genji - Update 2

If you are at all familiar with the Summer of Genji reading schedule, you will probably notice that I'm a little ahead of where I'm supposed to be at this point:

There are two reasons for this.  First of all, I really want to finish before going on vacation in the first week of August.  Bringing a book this big onto a plane simply seems absurd.  Second, though, is that the nature of this book begs for it to be read in huge chunks.  There are so many characters, often identified only through generic, frequently changing titles, that if you stop reading for even a day, it's easy to forget completely who you are reading about.

Plus, many of the best moments in the book consist of a subtle shift in the relationship between characters over the course of 50 or more pages.  If you didn't read it all at once, however, it is much harder to pick up on these shifts.  I've noticed several times that the first 20 minutes I spend reading in the evening are slow, and at times dull.  30 minutes later, however, I don't want to put the book down because some enthralling sub plot has begun to develop.  Ultimately, I've found that my enjoyment for the book increases dramatically the more of it I can read in a single sitting.

It's worth noting that this edition of the book (Royall Tyler's translation) helps immensely in identify characters and their relationships through footnotes and appendices.  I can't imagine reading Genji without them!

Comments

Christy
Christy on 07/21/2010 7:01 p.m.

wow look at that! *applauds*

It makes sense in an epic book like that to continue in big chunks to get the full feel of the subtle changes in character.

I'll be going on vacation at the beginning of August too, so I have some books I plan to finish before then and then I have to decide what books I am going to take with me. Crucial decisions!

Scott
Scott on 07/22/2010 6:24 a.m.

Yeah, I still have to figure out what I'm going to be bringing on vacation. I prefer light, fun reading for time off - hopefully I can figure something out.

Mome Rath
Mome Rath on 07/23/2010 1:14 a.m.

Go Scott! That is some tome to be reckoned with! I can understand why you wouldn't want to take it on vacation -- you might as well be taking a dictionary or concordance (though I'm sure it has a much better plot). Hope you can find some good books to take on vacation.

Scott
Scott on 07/23/2010 8:13 a.m.

You're right - I've read some pretty gripping concordances, but <i>Genji's</i> plot is definitely better.

As for vacation I'll probably grab some sci-fi or young adult and indulge a little bit.

Erin Leigh
Erin Leigh on 07/23/2010 7:38 p.m.

Holy Cow!! You flew through that first 940 pages.

Scott
Scott on 07/24/2010 4 p.m.

I think it says a lot about the quality of this book that the time spent reading has really flown by.

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