The Tale of Genji was the world’s first ever novel, which would be remarkable enough, but there’s so much more that distinguishes this extraordinary work; not least of which is the fact that it was penned by a woman. It’s an elusive work that has proved resilient to categorisation over its long life and the eleventh century plot is rich with emotional drama, courtly intrigue and aristocratic custom that remains as potent and relevant today as it was then.

Dennis Washburn, Professor at Dartmouth College (USA) has completed a new translation of the text that offers a fresh take on ‘The Tale of Genji’ for our age. He joins the University of Cambridge’s emeritus professor of Japanese studies, Richard Bowring, and translator Juliet Winters Carpenter, who will offer a view on the novel’s place in Japanese culture both past and present. Together they will explore the language and far-reaching legacy of Genji in Japan and the wider world.

About The Academics

Richard Bowring

Richard Bowring is emeritus professor of Japanese studies at the University of Cambridge. His published work includes ‘The Religious Traditions of Japan 500–1600’ and (with J. Baskind) ‘The Mytei dialogues: a Japanese Christian critique of native traditions’, as well as several titles on Murasaki Shikibu, author of ‘The Tale of Genji’.

Dennis Washburn

Dennis Washburn is the Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor in Asian Studies at Dartmouth College. Author of ‘The Dilemma of the Modern in Japanese Fiction’ and ‘Translating Mount Fuji’, he is the translator of Minakami Tsutomu’s ‘Temple of the Wild Geese’, Tsushima Yuko’s ‘Laughing Wolf’, and ‘The Tale of Genji’.


Irena Hayter

Dr Irena Hayter is Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Leeds where she teaches Japanese literature, film and cultural history. She has published in journals such as Japan Forum and Japanese Language and Literature. Her work focuses on the literary and visual cultures of Japanese modernity during the interwar years and their politics.


Juliet Winters Carpenter

Award-winning translator Juliet Winters Carpenter grew up in the American Midwest and is now a professor of English at Doshisha Women’s College in Kyoto. She has translated over fifty books, including ‘A True Novel’. A new Mizumura translation, ‘Inheritance From Mother’, is due out in 2017.