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Liza Dalby’s “The Tale of Murasaki” is a novel that recounts the life of an ancient Japanese novelist known as Murasaki Shikubi. Liza borrowed some of works from the novel written early by Shikubi known as “The Tale of Genji”. The novel by Dalby provides the story of a prince who was charming, and had prowess in wooing women. The novel reveals the life led by those residing in the court, which was filled with sexual pursuits, politics, and brilliancy in literacy. In addition, the author conveys the life that women led in ancient Japan, which was filled with many traditions and restrictions. Sexual politics is also revealed with the author. The main weakness of the novel is the way it presents the life led by women. Several themes are outlined in the novel, and they include traditions and beliefs and gender inequality. However, the main theme can be classified under life and traditions. Notably, civilization is depicted as having some flaws because the courts that the rulers resided lacked lavatories. Arguably, the novel is presented in an extraordinary manner given the choice of words of the author in some instances.
Liza Dalby presents a wide range of messages including the life that women led in ancient Japan, and this is depicted by how Murasaki gains prowess in the eyes of men through her literary works that give her an added advantage over them. Liza recounts the role of women in the in a family as it is indicated how Murasaki took over the duty of running the household after the demise of her mother. Traditions feature a lot in the novel with arranged marriages were the order of the day (Dalby).
The main weakness of the book is how the author wants readers to believe that women had no place in the ancient Japanese society while, at the same time, the life of Murasaki depicts how she ascended through the ranks, to become part of the imperial circle. The novel also relents in its message against arranged marriages Murasaki acquiesces to her father’s choice of husband. The novel also fails in addressing the issue of civilization. This is because the novel depicts the court as lacking a lavatory, which leaves readers questioning the other types of civilization depicted.
The main theme conveyed by the author concerns life and culture. This theme is depicted in a variety of ways in the novel including the cosmetics used by women in ancient Japan, music, religion, and games. For instance, the women in the novel used to make cosmetic that they placed on their teeth, to appear dark (Dalby).
Civilization in the novel is at a somewhat advanced stage because of the different things depicted in the novel such as architecture, women’s cosmetics, and clothing. From the novel, a reader realizes that the aristocracy at that period led a glamorous life, as they resided in one storied buildings (Dalby). However, there are some flaws with the civilization because the court is depicted as lacking lavatories. Homosexuality also existed during that period.
The story is presented in an interesting way as some reviews describe the novel as visiting a museum where thick layers of glass enclose exhibits. The fascinating bit depicts how the author chooses her words carefully in describing gowns that contain many layers, and how women mixed sake and iron fillings, which made their smiles alluring.
In conclusion, Liza Dalby’s novel recounts the life of Murasaki Shikubi who preserved her memoirs in writing. The author presents various messages in her novel such as the traditions of the ancient Japanese, sexual politics, and literary brilliancy. Main weakness of the novel depicts when it relents in addressing the issue of forced marriages as Murasaki decides to marry a man chosen by his father. The novel is presented in an amusing way basing on the choice of words utilized by the author in the description of different scenarios.