by Murasaki Shikibu
Derived from the journals of an empress's tutor and companion, this unique book offers rare glimpses of court life in eleventh-century Japan. Lady Murasaki recounts episodes of drama and intrigue among courtiers as well as the elaborate rituals related to the birth of a prince. Her observations, expressed with great subtlety, offer penetrating and timeless insights into human nature.
Murasaki Shikibu (circa AD 973–1025) served among the gifted poets and writers of the imperial court during the Heian period. She and other women of the era were instrumental in developing Japanese as a written language, and her masterpiece, The Tale of Genji, is regarded as the world's first novel. Lady Murasaki's diary reveals the role of books in her society, including the laborious copying of texts and their high status as treasured gifts. This translation is accompanied by a Foreword from American poet and Japanophile Amy Lowell.