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“Genji Monogatari,” known as “The Tale of Genji” in English, is believed by many scholars to be the first full-length novel in world literature. Marking the 1,000th anniversary since its creation, today’s Timeout introduces this masterpiece that draws readers into a beautiful world gone by full of passion, pleasures and sorrows of men and women.

But to begin with, skeptics may wonder how the provenance of this medieval tale can be so certainly traced. In fact, though, the diary of its author Murasaki Shikibu, a court lady in the then-imperial city of Kyoto, shows that people were reading the novel in 1008.

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