Friday, April 07, 2006

Book #11 - The Pillow Book

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Translated and Edited from the Japanese by Ivan Morris

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 a distance. Moving elegantly across a wide range of themes including nature, society, and her own flirtations, Sei Shonagon provides a witty and intimate window on a woman’s life at court in classical Japan.
I like to think that if Sei Shonagon were alive today, she'd have a blog, and a fun one to read it would be too! Shonagon is at times petty, condescending, entertaining, outspoken, witty and always opinionated. It's amazing that what she wrote, a thousand years ago, can still resonate with today's reader. It's a wonderful glimpse into life at court in Heian Japan.
Morris' notes were very detailed and informative, definitely adding to the experience. I'm now one step closer to reading The Tale of Genji!

Read the first passage of The Pillow Book.

My rating: 4/5

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