We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.



Part commoner, part royalty, Genji (“The Shining Prince”), an 11th-century Japanese youth, is a favored visitor to the bedrooms of dozens of women in the court of the Emperor, and the protagonist of Lady Murasaki Shikibu’s classic epic The Tale of Genji. But it’s OK if he’s never been in your boudoir: Though Lady Murasaki had a short resurgence as a feminist icon in the ’70s, few have ever read her masterpiece. The work, which some consider to be the world’s first novel, was translated into English only twice before this year. And as it turns out, the third time is the charm. Asian scholar Royall Tyler’s new illustrated edition is geared for modern readers, replete with explanations of Buddhism, medieval Japanese poetry, and pertinent genealogies. Not to mention full of the erotic, spellbinding, psychologically sophisticated twists that have made the work a favorite of world-literature aficionados for more than 1,000 years. Tyler talks about the work of translating the classic at 6 p.m. at the Ripley Center’s Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. $16. (202) 357-3030. (Robin Dougherty)