Sei served her empress during the late heian period a particularly vibrant time for japanese arts and the beginning of japans feudal age and was a. The classic portrayal of court life in tenthcentury japan written by the court gentlewoman sei shonagon, ostensibly for her own amusement, the pillow book offers a fascinating exploration of life among the nobility at the height of the heian period, describing the exquisite pleasures of a confined world in which poetry, love, fashion, and whim dominated, while harsh reality was kept firmly at. The striking thing about this book is that it really seems like sei shonagon the author wanted her work to be read by people of the future. The pleasures of the flesh and the pleasures of literature. If sei shonagon were alive today, she would be a livejournalist. Sei shonagon, the author of the pillow book, was born in 966 or 967, the daughter of kiyohara no motosuke. Buy the pillow book of sei shonagon penguin classics by sei shonagon, ivan morris, ivan morris isbn. A perfect companion to that work, the pillow book of sei shonagon brings an added dimension to murasakis timeless and seminal novel and further illuminates japanese court life in all its ritualistic glory. The pillow book, written about 1002, is a collection of impressions of court life by the court lady sei shonagon. Apr 20, 2017 the pillow book makura no soshi is a personalised account of life at the japanese court by sei shonagon which she completed c.
A precursor of the genre zuihitsu random jottings the more literal meaning to proceed, or follow, with a brush, this literary form made its appearance under the title makura. Written in the kamakura period in theth century, and therefore three centuries after the pillow book the essays in idleness even have a reference to sei shonagon s literacy work ei, 3. The author is sei shonagon, and she was given some notebooks that were lying around the palace that no one else wanted. Inspired by the ancient japanese journal of sei shonagon, lady in waiting to empress teishi sadako, pillow book gallery is the chronicle of life and love. The pillow book of sei shonagon is a fascinating, detailed account of japanese court life in the eleventh century. A contemporary of murasaki shikibu, who wrote the tale of genji, sei shonagon reflects the same concern with style and taste typical of the period. Oct 06, 2012 my name is sei shonagon and i come from a long line of distinguished poets and scholars. It was guessed that so curious a state of society, with its rampant. A common refrain in criticism of the eleventhcentury work the pillow book is that sei shonagon had nothing but disparaging words to say about the lower classes. The pillow book is a compendium of seis thoughts on various subjects, in the form of. Excerpts from the pillow book of sei shonagon asia for educators. I call it a diary but the pillow book is so much more.
Introduction sei shonagon s pillow book makura no soshi is the private journal of a ladyinwaiting to the empress of japan written during the 990s. This position afforded shonagon an ideal opportunity to observe the people and customs at the royal court in heian. The work of shonagon consists of a collection of essays, anecdotes, poems, and descriptive passages that have little connection to one. Apr 11, 2014 a pillow book is an openended and spontaneous collection of fragments, and as such may include lists, observations, poems, short personal essays and diary entries. Written in the kamakura period in theth century, and therefore three centuries after the pillow book the essays in idleness even have a reference to sei shonagons literacy work ei, 3. Not only when the moon shines, but on dark nights too, as the fireflies flit to and fro, and even. The pillow book of sei shonagon with excerpts and study questions on asia for. The pillow book of sei shonagon, edited by ivan morris. The pillow book of sei shonagon by arthur waley overdrive. It is almost like reading a blog from ancient japan.
She was a gentlewoman in the imperial court known for her wit and clever poetry. The pillowbook of sei shonagon translated by ivan morris. The pillowbook of sei shonagon by sei shonagon, 1929. When the first volume of the tale of genji appeared in english, the prevailing comment of critics was that the book revealed a subtle and highly developed civilization, the very existence of which had hitherto remained unsuspected. Sei shonagons pillow book makura no soshi is the private journal of a ladyinwaiting to the empress of japan written during the 990s. Her observations are contained in a loosely organized collection of 185 sketches, lists, and anecdotes known as the pillow book.
As the light creeps over the hills, their outlines are dyed a faint red and wisps of purplish cloud trail over them. Poetry was a big deal then you would be justified in severing all contact with a lover if he sent you poor poetry. The pillow book dover thrift editions sei shonagon. As you read this excerpt, think about how ladiesinwaiting like sei shonagon entertained themselves. Jun 28, 2011 his pillow book is certainly excruciating reading for anyone who isnt a contemporary japanese girl, and reduces seis subtleties of perception and expression to tedious cliche, but it does capture the delight, and the vividness of voice and personality, that are the essential experience of reading the pillow book. As the light creeps over the hills, their outlines are. In her journal, sei shonagon describes events that happened in her daily life, e. The pillow book is a compendium of sei s thoughts on various subjects, in the form of. Rare things a soninlaw whos praised by his wifes father.
Unfortunately, the pillow book is the only remaining text by sei shonagon, and her life after she left court in a. The pillow book is the diary of sei shonagon, a courtesan at the imperial court of japan in the late 10th and early 11th century. My musing of days spent in the court of the fujiwara family are found in the publication the pillow book, a meandering of lists, observations and poems from my experiences. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. While others may be more familiar with murasaki shikibus the tale of genji as an example of classic japanese literature of the time, i chose the pillow book instead i always lean towards bucking the trend and i was intrigued by what i had read of sei. For march i will complete the set of what is for me that trinity of great heian women writers who lived in the same world, in a sense dominated by the mystique of the tanka, but were so different from one another by adding to the legendary poet ono no komachi, and the incomparable novelist murasaki shikibu, the essayist or diarist sei shonagon, author of the pillow book. In this 5 part program, karen lindsey reads professor ivan morris translation of the pillow book, 1967 a book of observations and musings recorded by sei shonagon during her time as court lady to empress consort teishi during the 990s and early 11th century in heian japan. How does this interjection from the past enrich the novel. Each chapter of my year of meats opens with an excerpt from sei shonagon s the pillow book. The pillow book is an extreme example of a work that has lived past its time, and attained the deathless status that writers dream of as they labour over their page or screen, transmuting their moment into momenttranscending language.
Unbinding the pillow book columbia university press. Chapter literature selection the pillow book 12 by sei shonagon. Gender issues in the pillow book and the essays in. The pillow book of sei shonagon columbia university press. New york, columbia university press, 1967 dlc 67024962 ocolc1175678.
Aug 01, 2009 sei shonagon was born in japan around the year 965 ce and served as a lady in waiting to empress sadako. She is very funny, and her cutting wit is relentless. Nov 30, 2006 the pillow book of sei shonagon is a fascinating look at japanese court culture during the 11th century heian period 794 to 1186. Unbinding the pillow book is an erudite and often entertaining guide to the persona of sei shonagon and her peripatetic text, the pillow book. In her pillow book, she gives an account of the things she saw and her feelings. The diary of a courtesan in tenth century japan dennis washburn. The pillow book is an extreme example of a work that has lived past its time, and. The ground to present such ideology is that ma y of the women within the ancient centuries were denied various rights since many of the men were opposed to the perspective of according rights to. The pillow book is a journal written by a tenthcentury ladyinwaiting to the empress of japan. The pillow book of sei shonagon is a fascinating, detailed the liveliest and most endearing of heian writers, and the one who gives the most intimate and vivid picture of life at court. The book is full of humorous observations okashi written in the style of a diary, an approach known as zuihitsustyle rambling of which the pillow book was the first and greatest example. One of the great classics of japanese literature, the pillow book of sei shonagon is by far our most detailed source of factual material on life in eleventhcentury japan at the height of heian culture. Excerpts from the pillow book by sei shonagon in spring it is the dawn in spring it the dawn that is most beautiful.
The pillow book by sei shonagon is of salient discussion given the case that it presents various segments that would help one to analyze her as woman. The pillow book pb by sei shonagon and the essays in idleness ei by yoshida kenko are both considered classic japanese literature. Here are excerpts from some famous literary lists, starting with an excerpt from the pillow book, the journal of court lady sei shonagons in 10th century japan. This book is an absolute treasure, and this paperback publication is nicely presented. The pillow book of sei shonagon asia for educators. Written by a lady of the court at the height of heian culture, this book enthralls with its lively gossip, witty observations, and subtle impressions. A pair of silver tweezers that can actually pull out hairs properly. The pillow book of sei shonagon is a fascinating look at japanese court. Through his elegant and readable abridged translation, arthur waley perfectly conveys sei shonagon s girlish temperament and quirky.
Its opening section, which beginsharu wa akebono, or spring, dawn, is arguably the single most famous passage in japanese. Chapter literature selection the pillow book 12 by sei. It is still a shrewd guide to sex, snobbery and political. Gender issues in the pillow book and the essays in idleness. The pillow book is her journal, and the topics she covers are varied. Thats the overall impression i got from this book it reads very much like a modern livejournal or blog, being a collection of random observations on whatever shonagon found interesting, lists of things she. Sei served her empress during the late heian period a particularly vibrant time for japanese arts and the beginning of japans feudal age and was a contemporary of. The pillow book, makura no soshi is a book of observations and musings recorded by sei shonagon during her time as court lady to empress consort teishi during the 990s and early s in heian japan. Ivanova elucidates the complex reception of the text as an ongoing dialogue between the irretrievable past and the dynamic present. Hateful things by sei shonagon hateful things is an excerpt from sei shonagon s pillow book.
Aug 14, 2019 the pillow book of sei shonagon is a fascinating, detailed the liveliest and most endearing of heian writers, and the one who gives the most intimate and vivid picture of life at court. Consider the interplay between these quotes and the narratives trajectory. How does the sei shonagon voice shape your relationship to. Sei shonagons the pillow book is one of the strangest and most delightful works of literature in the entire human history. When the first volume of the tale of genji appeared in english, the prevailing. The pillow book, on the other hand, is a plain record of fact, and being at least ten times as long as murasakis diary, and far more varied in contents, it is the most important document of the period that we possess. Sei shonagon, a ladyinwaiting to empress teishi or sadako, left a journal of anecdotes, impressions, and commentary called the pillowbook covering the. Sei shonagon, who may well have allowed herself such a dream from time to time as her brush moved over the page, despite the fact that what she was writing was. Unlike the wistful and sometimes tragic mood of the tale of genji, however, the author of the pillow book expressed the feeling of okashi, or a delight in the novelty of life at court.
This study guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of the pillow book of sei sh. Every now and then she provides a list of things, which are like tiny exhibitions organised by an unpredictable curator. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. She was a tremendously witty lady of the court in 10th century japan who kept a private diary of various lists and commentaries, and this is one of them.1631 669 1236 594 1069 174 578 441 447 1117 390 1514 247 1270 296 363 685 1504 1243 282 391 867 366 535 854 199 962 988 944 523 502 1074 406 504 860