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Mack, R.J. (1927). A Dream from an Eleventh Century Japanese Novel. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:402-403.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:402-403

A Dream from an Eleventh Century Japanese Novel

Ruth Jane Mack

In the summer of 1925 there appeared in the English translation of Arthur Waley, The Tale of Genji, a large Japanese work in novel form, written 1001–1015 A.D., by Lady Murasaki, a member of the Emperor's court. Despite its sheerly poetic and narrative beauty, and its translator's emphasis of these qualities, it is in its psychological aspect that the tale of the largely amorous adventures of Genji, a Japanese Don Juan, is of particular interest to us. Many passages might be quoted; the following evaluation of a dream has seemed to me especially noteworthy.

Aoi, the wife of Genji, has just died; and it is assumed here, as throughout the book, that the hatred of an enemy, known or unknown, has killed her. Lady Rokujo, the mistress of Genji, is aware of the fact that Aoi's death is attributed to the machinations of her 'living spirit'. She broods upon the nature of her feeling toward Aoi, but is unable to discover in it anything save intense unhappiness. 'Yet she could not be sure whether somewhere in the depths of a soul consumed by anguish some spark of malice had not lurked'. Hereupon she recollects a dream:

'It seemed to her that she had been in a large magnificent room, where lay a girl whom she knew to be the Princess Aoi. Snatching her by the arm she had mauled and dragged the prostrate figure, with an outburst of brutal fury such as in her waking life would have been utterly foreign to her. Since then she had had the same dream several times. How terrible! It seemed then that it was really possible for one's spirit to leave the body and break out into emotions which the waking mind would not countenance'.


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