“The Tale of Genji” is said to be the first novel in the world. We learn part of them in original old language at high school in “Old Japanese” class. Though it’s quite long, even in manga below, which has 12 volumes in Japanese version (English version seems to be shorter).
In those days, they were writing in paper roll with Chinese brush and ink. Only men were allowed to writing in kanji, but actually this author Murasaki Shikibu was good at reading Chinese documents in kanji. Her farther told her “if only you were boy…”. She wrote this novel in katakana, which was supposed to be women’s letter.
If you are interested in background of this novel or digest of story, perhaps this might help:
As he says, it’s worth repeating. Basically it’s a story of love, life and death, every time I read, got a new point of view. Although I haven’t even finished reading translation of modern Japanese (about the middle).
BTW, in those days, Japanese capital was in Kyoto. So Genji must have been talking in Kyoto accent, if he existed.
Following videos are “The Tale of Genji” read in Kyoto dialect. Don’t worry, I don’t understand either, haha. Just enjoy the lovely Kyoto scenery and beautiful kimono.
Lastly, the translation of manga which might help your understanding: looks like it’s cut a lot in English compared to original.