Tales of the Genji

By Murasaki Shikibu





The Lady of the Paulownia-Courtyard Chambers


In whose reign was it that a woman of rather undistinguished lineage capture the heart of the Emperor and enjoyed his favor above all the other imperial wives and concubines?  Certain consorts, whose high noble status gave them a sense of vain entitlement, despised and reviled her as an unworthy upstart from the very moment she began her service.  Ladies of lower rank were even more vexed, for they knew His Majesty would never bestow the same degree of affection and attention on them.  As a result, the free presence of this woman at morning rites or evening ceremonies seemed to provoke hostile reactions among her rivals, and the anxiety she suffered as a consequence of these ever-increasing displays of jealousy was such a heavy burden that gradually her health began to fail...


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