From a very young age, Genji’s true passion is for his step mother, Fujitsubo, only five years his senior, the same age as his wife Aoi. After the untimely death of Genji’s birth mother, the emperor is to the point of inconsolable grief. He is told about a “lady famous for her beauty” (15). Fujitsubo, also called, “‘the lady of the radiant sun’” because she ranks beside Genji in the emperor‘s affections (16). Her resemblance to Genji’s dead mother is uncanny. For this same reason, and that Genji seems to have little emotional connection to his own wife, Fujitsubo is for him “a vision of sublime beauty” (18).
Although their relationship is in every way forbidden, Genji manages a night alone with the beautiful Lady Fujitsubo. Afterwards, she is found pregnant with his child. No doubt suffering from humiliation and various other unpleasantries, she becomes ill leaving the tenderhearted Genji quite beside himself with concern for her. Much to his sorrow, from this day forward, Fujitsubo will not see him alone.
In his search to fill the empty place left in his heart, Genji meets the child Murasaki, the ten-year-old niece to Lady Fukitsubo. Murasaki will one day become the “true” love of Genji’s life:
A “sudden realization brought him close to tears: the resemblance to Fujitsubo, for whom he so yearned, was astonishing” (88).
From the beginning, the little girl is also quite fond of Genji:
“She would be the first to run out and greet him when he came home, and she would climb on his lap, and they would talk happily together” (111).
While Murasaki is still a child, Genji encounters the Lady of the Misty Moon during a cherry blossom festival. He has little trouble enticing the lady into his bed:
“She came (could he believe it?) to the door. Delighted, he caught at her sleeve. ‘Who are you?’ She was frightened. ‘There is nothing to be afraid of… (He assured her). Quickly and lightly he lifted her down to the gallery and slid the door closed. Her surprise pleased him enormously. Trembling, she called for help. “It will do you no good. I am always allowed my way”, Genji assures her (152).
Robert Greene tells us that “This “self-belief is half of Genji’s charm.” In fact another’s resistance “does not make him defensive; he (merely) retreats gracefully, reciting a little poetry, and as he leaves, the perfume of his robes tails (is left deliciously) behind him” (Greene 65).
Another of Genji’s conquests is the Lady of the Orange Blossoms, the younger sister of one of his deceased father’s former consorts. Genji quietly makes his way to where the younger sister resides. She has never seen a visitor of such “unsurpassed good looks” (217). His manners are tender and she is soon convinced that he would never lie to her when he whispers sweet things in her ear.
Copyright 2008 by Ledia Runnels
If you are just now reading this article, Part One begins here: http://creativemusingsoflediar.com/2012/06/11/a-saga-of-seduction-in-japan-tale-of-genji-the-first-novel-ever-written-part-one/
- A Saga of Seduction in Japan: Tale of Genji (The first novel ever written) Part One (creativemusingsoflediar.com)
- A Saga of Seduction in Japan: Tale of Genji (The first novel ever written) Part Two (creativemusingsoflediar.com)
- Tale of Genji: Week 17, Chapter 17 (The Picture Contest) (chazzw.wordpress.com)
- Tale of Genji, Chapter 11 (chazzw.wordpress.com)
- 源氏物語 (zhongyuzhang.wordpress.com)
- The Kids Are All Right (summergenji.wordpress.com)
- Tale of Genji: Week 14, Chapter 14 (chazzw.wordpress.com)
- Tale of Genji, Week 12, Chapter 12 (chazzw.wordpress.com)
- It is because cherry blossoms fall that they are so precious (summergenji.wordpress.com)
- Genji in Midair (summergenji.wordpress.com)