Hide Ishiguro, 21 May 1981
Some twenty years ago, not long after I came to England, I heard a talk by Rayner Heppenstall asserting that English and French were the only two cultures which had a continuous literary tradition from medieval times. Sceptical as I was about his claim, even in the European context, I was taken aback by the lack of curiosity which it demonstrated. Listening to the applause of the audience, I wondered what it reflected of the general attitude of the reading public in Britain. It is therefore very welcome to find that the Penguin Classics now include The Tale of Genji, a psychological novel written at the beginning of the 11th century by a Japanese court lady.