The original manuscript of the 11th-century Japanese novel The Tale of Genji has been lost. According to the Wikipedia article Textual tradition of The Tale of Genji, "the number of manuscript copies of it is very large". Already by the 13th century there were many variations between the manuscripts that were in circulation.

Neither of these two Wikipedia articles mention when the novel was first printed. According to World Digital Library, the first printed edition was a 54-volume edition produced during the Keichō Era (1596–1615). However, according to Julie L. Mellby at Princeton University ("Summer reading: The Tale of Genji", 29 April 2011),

The first printed edition of The Tale of Genji was published in 1654 and includes woodcuts by Yamamoto Shunshô (1610-1682). Known as the Tale of Genji, Jou-oh Edition, our copy is complete with 54 volumes of main text and 6 commentaries, a grand total of 60 volumes.

Whichever edition was published first, I would like to know what manuscript or manuscripts the first edition was based on, if those handwritten pages still exist. If the source manuscripts still exists, is there any information about textual variations between them and the printed edition? If they have been lost, is there any extant manuscript that comes close to the printed edition?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.