WORLD'S 'FIRST' NOVEL ENTERS COLLECTION AS WOMAN'S OEUVRE
An early nineteenth century manuscript of Chapter 20 of the Book of Genji, considered to be one of earliest examples of the novel as a literary form after the ancient period, has been added to the Schøyen Collection under the 'Female Authors' section.
Revered by affcionados of Japanese literature and scholars of the novel form, Genji is attributed to noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early 11th century (Heian period). It is not only an example of a popular literary form of the period, women's court literature, but is considered a supreme masterpiece of Japanese prose.
Martin Schøyen, creator of the collection, said: "Many scholars regard Genji as the greatest literary work by a woman, so I believe it is fitting that we have included it under the Female Authors section – although its literary and historical significance clearly goes beyond issues of gender."
The work recounts over 54 chapters the life of Genji, the second son of the Japanese Emperor, and comprises some four hundred dramatis personae spanning generations.