The work recounts the life of a son of a Japanese emperor, known to readers as Hikaru Genji, or "Shining Genji". Neither appellation is his actual name: Genji (源氏, Genji) is simply another way to read the Chinese characters for the real-life Minamoto clan (源の氏, Minamoto-no-Uji), to which Genji was made to belong. For political reasons, Genji is relegated to commoner status (by being given the surname Minamoto) and begins a career as an imperial officer.
The tale concentrates on Genji's romantic life and describes the customs of the aristocratic society of the time. Much is made of Genji's good looks. His most important personality trait is the loyalty he shows to all the women in his life, as he never abandons any of his wives. When he finally becomes the most powerful man in the capital, he moves into a palace and provides for each of them.
(The Tale of Genji (源氏物語, Genji Monogatari) is a classic work of Japanese literature attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the early eleventh century, around the peak of the Heian Period. It is sometimes called the world's first novel, the first modern novel, or the first novel to still be considered a classic. The issue remains debated among readers.)