Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 1120 pages.

The Tale of Genji: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) - Royall Tyler, Murasaki Shikibu

“A wife's main duty is to look after her husband, so it seems to me that one can do quite well without her being too sensitive, ever so delicate about the least thing, and all too fond of being amused. On the other hand, with a dutiful, frumpish housewife who keeps her sidelocks tucked behind her ears and does nothing but housework, the husband who leaves in the morning and comes home at night, and who can hardly turn to strangers to chat about how so-and-so is getting on in public or private or about whatever, good or bad, may have happened to strike him and is entitled to expect some understanding from the woman who shares his life, finds instead, when he feels like discussing with her the things that have made him laugh or cry, or perhaps have inflamed him with righteous indignation and are now demanding an outlet, that all he can do is avert his eyes, and that when he then betrays private mirth or heaves a sad sigh, she just looks up at him blankly and asks, ‘What is it, dear?’ How could he not wish himself elsewhere? It is probably not a bad idea to take a wholly childlike, tractable wife and form her yourself as well as you can. She may not have your full confidence, but you will know your training has made a difference. Certainly, as long as you actually have her with you, you can let her pretty ways persuade you to overlook her lapses; but you will still regret her incompetence if, when you are away, you send her word about something practical or amusing that needs doing, and her response shows that she knows nothing about it and understands nothing either. Sometimes a wife who is not especially sweet or friendly does very well when you actually need her.” The Chief Equerry's far-ranging discussion of his topic yielded no conclusion but a deep sigh.


LoL. So, it appears that even the earliest novel(s) were full of men being entirely puzzled by women. The fact that this was written by a woman makes it really funny.


This is delightful so far. I'm sure I'm missing lots of nuances and allusions because I'm lacking the background knowledge about the Japanese imperial court and Japanese history at large, but so far this story has been quite sweet. 


The only thing is, one needs to switch off the 20th/21st century goggles entirely. 

Genji is 12 years old when he is married to his 16-year-old wife, who also seems to be a cousin of his.