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The Tale of Lady Ochibuko is less a novel than it is a novella regardless of this, it was actually written about twenty or thirty years prior to The Tale of Genji, which comes as sort of a surprise to me What also really stands out to me about Ochibuko is that it s a precursor to the modern Cinderella story I sort of wonder what has caused this particular work to sink into obscurity, but in another way I actually understand perfectly well why it has While Genji is full of beautiful descripti The Tale of Lady Ochibuko is less a novel than it is a novella regardless of this, it was actually written about twenty or thirty years prior to The Tale of Genji, which comes as sort of a surprise to me What also really stands out to me about Ochibuko is that it s a precursor to the modern Cinderella story I sort of wonder what has caused this particular work to sink into obscurity, but in another way I actually understand perfectly well why it has While Genji is full of beautiful descriptions, vibrant characters and an author with a clear personality and identity, Ochibuko is lacking For a piece of Japanese literature, I have to admit that I expectedimmersion into the culture via character and environment While I can clearly tell that this work is, in fact, Japanese and possesses the basic traits that make the country s literature stand out from Western literature, it is not a particularly well written novella in comparison At least, the translation I read doesn t impress me but I don t think I can really blame the translator if the original was probably just as lifeless While Ochibuko is essentially an influence on the Cinderella story, it doesn t follow it all the way While the Lady does start out very similarly to Cinderella in a bad family situation, her Prince Charming comes along fairly quickly to save her once that story arc is completed there s still about half the novel left, in which a lot of the tedium comes into play I m sure that the anonymous author wants the reader to see how the family ends up suffering and I respect that, but it does not come off as interesting because of the aforementioned unpolished writing Overall, I was a little disappointed in The Tale of Lady Ochibuko It is not at all representative of the fantastic writing available for the Heian time period However, I would recommend it to those who have already read a few Heian works just for its significance of being a precursor and possible influence on Genji Meet Lady Ochikubo, a Cinderella in a particular time of Heian period for JanuaryinJapan book 6 She grows up in a prestigious family with cruel step mother who constantly treats her as nothing but Ochikubo no Kimi The Lady of the Lower Room So like Cinderella, she lives in a very tiny room From that room, she keeps sewing for everyone but she does not have any decent outfit to wear She later of course finds her prince charming and marries him after both of them exchanging some letters Meet Lady Ochikubo, a Cinderella in a particular time of Heian period for JanuaryinJapan book 6 She grows up in a prestigious family with cruel step mother who constantly treats her as nothing but Ochikubo no Kimi The Lady of the Lower Room So like Cinderella, she lives in a very tiny room From that room, she keeps sewing for everyone but she does not have any decent outfit to wear She later of course finds her prince charming and marries him after both of them exchanging some letters, poem and the guy keeps sneaking into her room several times After the wedding, her husband gets a rise in status and power He tries to use that power on Ochikubo s family particularly the step mother who treats her badly He gets somebody influential to pull out of one marriage the engineers a fool to marry another and constantly breaking this family into pieces He later returns to the family pretending to be their white knight just to make them sorry for treating his wife badly Ah, a little bit like this Drew Barry s Ever After movie tho I know that I look like an old lady who keeps complaining just because I have never ever been into a Cinderella story tho I always hate a heroine who experiences Cinderella syndrome Yet I wish I could see a little bit of development in our Lady Ochikubo Her character to me is just so flat and relatively uninteresting Her maid isinteresting than her She is delight, cheerful and has very sassy mouth I love how Ochikubo s maid argues, teases and shares common jokes with her husband Their relationship islively than our hero and heroine s relationship It feels like a real relationship tho.It is an interesting book but it is just okay in my opinion Those hoping for a second Genji will perhaps be disappointed by the comparative sketchiness of The Tale of Ochikubo, but it rattles along for all its breeziness or because of it and remains consistently charming from start to finish While the lady herself is never other than a paragon, there is a fair amount of realistic and subtle characterization elsewhere even in the case of the wicked stepmother Really quite a satisfying read. The Tale of Lady Ochikubo is a tenth century Japanese monogatari, if the translation is fair to the source material, it s essentially a novel I know very little about Japanese culture nothing about Heian period, yet I have read other early novels and I found myself surprisingly at home.There s something about this book which is not a million miles away from late seventeenth century or early eighteenth century literature There is the same focus on money and prestige, the difficulty of matchin The Tale of Lady Ochikubo is a tenth century Japanese monogatari, if the translation is fair to the source material, it s essentially a novel I know very little about Japanese culture nothing about Heian period, yet I have read other early novels and I found myself surprisingly at home.There s something about this book which is not a million miles away from late seventeenth century or early eighteenth century literature There is the same focus on money and prestige, the difficulty of matching money and manners, a character who has all the noble qualities and is not treated such contrasted with an ignoble character who has a high position Japan in the tenth century was farlike modern Europe than Europe in the tenth century was we were telling each other Beowulf and sagas of century long feuding these people have traffic jams, conspicuous spending and snarky poems.There was also something very like eighteenth century novels in how the central figure of Lady Ochikubo was a relatively uninteresting, blemish free character but the characters who surround her are really interesting Her maid was a particular delight, snarky, sassy and very in control, she was essential in improving the lady s life with her ingenuity I also loved the maid s relationship with her husband, they argued, shared common jokes, teased each other and loved each other it felt like a real relationship.The story has equivalence in Cinderella , Lady Ochikubo is a stepdaughter who is constantly under a barrage of indignity and commands from her stepmother She lives in a tiny room where she does everyone s sewing but gets little to wear herself She of course finds her prince charming and marries him but that s only at the midpoint From there, her husband keeps rising in power and status, using that power to revenge himself on the family who so badly treated his one love He gets an influential man to pull out of one marriage, engineers a fool to marry another and constantly gazumps and one ups them at every turn When he has done this and gained evenpower, he then uses it to help the family who spurned Lady Ochikubo, find good positions for them and ultimately make them sorry they were ever horrid to her.The best part of the book was the middle section Where the first felt like a Eliza Haywood esque improbable romance, the second had aFielding esque feel The little snubs and big power plays that Lady Ochikubo s husband has with her former family are mostly satisfying and funny, making them look silly rather than any outright violence Although the details of tenth century Japanese life and early eighteenth century European life were different, the values were eerily similar and made the text pretty easy to navigate.The main difficulty in following the text came from the lack of names Except in times of extreme emotion, most of the characters were simply not named at all, only appearing under their titles This meant that as the characters moved up and down in the social hierarchy, their names changed and although the text tried its best to keep things straight, it still took a bit of following.Another huge difference between this text and what I m used to is the institution of marriage There seems to be a try before you buy system, where the couple sleep together three times before making a decision It also seemed that marriage was pretty easy to back out of and it was possible to have multiple wives In some ways this lessened the tension I m used to in early European novels, in those you can only get married once so it had better be the right one In other ways it heightened it because it seemed very possible for a man to abandon a wife without much censure.I was also unsure about the existence of lucky or unlucky days, years and even directions Religion was treated as something of a joke in this text, people who were unhappy declared their intention to become nuns and religious life seemed a choice suited to old people who had nothing better to do Add to that, the travellers on pilgrimage elbowed each other out of the way to get to the shrines and took each other s rooms, almost coming to an all out brawl Whereas people seemed to hold dignity very high in personal and professional life, there didn t seem to be much in religious life.Ultimately, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this text and how much I felt like I was following it, given my utter ignorance of the culture that produced it It seems there are similarities in novel producing cultures, a sense of social order and the individual s position in it, a certain mercantile greediness and a love of the witty putdown I might even seek out The Tale of Genji A delight to reread after teaching classes on the Tale of Genji for many years Did I really finish reading the book when I bought it in the 80s, with so many other translations from classical Japanese literature In any case, this time I read with care and enjoyment, doing spot checks with the original and a modern Japanese translation This English translation stands up well. I didn t like it as much as I recognize its cultural value Many aspects of Heian Japan are charming and intriguing many are uncomfortable Particular among that latter element are prevalent themes of male strength opposed to female weakness Not only were women powerless in the social field, where their only means of enacting change was hen pecking and moody silence but in the physical field, female vulnerability weeping, protesting was seen as erotic, and non consensual relationships are p I didn t like it as much as I recognize its cultural value Many aspects of Heian Japan are charming and intriguing many are uncomfortable Particular among that latter element are prevalent themes of male strength opposed to female weakness Not only were women powerless in the social field, where their only means of enacting change was hen pecking and moody silence but in the physical field, female vulnerability weeping, protesting was seen as erotic, and non consensual relationships are presented as the matter of fact norm with startling regularity and with no blemish left on the man s moral standing The main romance fluctuates between moments of affection and of abrasive male domineering That being said, the cultural impact of this story is considerable It offers a fascinating, cohesive and humanly portrayed snapshot of life in 10th century Japan that meshes with the other literature of the era to round out a detailed picture of the times Designated part of the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works for good reason, its at times unpleasant nature does not invalidate its significance Realized I read this before and didn t really think of it as a book though I guess it could almost be the length of a novella In terms of style and content is far removed from it s contemporary writings, though I could give it credit for potentially helping to spur the late 10th century feminine writing movement.As for it being the Japanese, Cinderella story, it isn t they share vague similarities, but the comparison is weak They share a similar fatalism, but then most pre modern works, i Realized I read this before and didn t really think of it as a book though I guess it could almost be the length of a novella In terms of style and content is far removed from it s contemporary writings, though I could give it credit for potentially helping to spur the late 10th century feminine writing movement.As for it being the Japanese, Cinderella story, it isn t they share vague similarities, but the comparison is weak They share a similar fatalism, but then most pre modern works, in general, fall back on fatalism The Buddhist sentiments of The Tale of Lady Ochikubo offer no parallel to the hard work and suffering get rewarded Christian backdrop of the Cinderella story.Worth the read if you re running the Heian period gauntlet of Lit *Free Kindle ⇨ The Tale of the Lady Ochikubo ↝ This family saga of a wicked stepmother has been called the world s first novel Written during the th century Heian Era and first translated into English and published by Kegan Paul in , it follows the changing fortunes of the heroine, Lady Ochikubo, who is forced to live almost as a servant in her noble father s house while the stepmother gives preference in all things to her own daughters Beautiful and clever, the Lady is told she is ugly and stupid, and kept indoors so no one knows of her existence The story of how the Lady marries a powerful nobleman of the royal court and triumphs over adversity is told with emotion, wit and humour A worthy precursor to Murasaki Shikibu s The Tale of Genji which was written some thirty years later, this masterpiece of Heian writing is a classic that richly deserves rediscovery The work includes appendices on the literature and political organization of the Heian Era I devoured this book I found it wonderfully exotic and entertaining, but I fear my reading of it and my understanding was pretty superficial This was my first exposure to 10th Century Japanese culture and history, and so I m afraid I had no reference point from which to take asubstantial meaning Still, it did spark in me an interest of doing further research on the subject, and perhaps when I become a littleknowledgeable I ll pick up the book again and be amazed at what and h I devoured this book I found it wonderfully exotic and entertaining, but I fear my reading of it and my understanding was pretty superficial This was my first exposure to 10th Century Japanese culture and history, and so I m afraid I had no reference point from which to take asubstantial meaning Still, it did spark in me an interest of doing further research on the subject, and perhaps when I become a littleknowledgeable I ll pick up the book again and be amazed at what and how little I took away from it the first time This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Really liked it Would read it again