The pillow book of sei shonagon translated by ivan morris
The Pillow Book
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Post a Comment. Sub-heading A blog for everything bookish. The Pillow Book has been sitting by my pillow for an awful long time. The Pillow Book is a delightful read which gives an interesting insight into Heian period during which she lived. The book is organised in short texts collected under a header.
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The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon has not only amply filled the long-felt need for a full English translation, but has also made a contribution to Heian studies.
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M ost people in Japan can reach back to their school days to unhesitatingly recite the famous opening lines of the thousand-year-old classic known in English as The Pillow Book. The sounds roll off the tongue like poetry, with the same resonance and authority that transcends mere meaning. It is written in a language that is largely quite opaque to contemporary readers, despite the years of high school study; a language that is held to be the epitome of classical beauty, the more beautiful for being more or less incomprehensible. The meaning of the text, the subject of high school study, is attained via rigorously detailed grammatical analyses that often cram the space between each line, and dissected at the bottom of the page in a lumpish literal translation into modern Japanese that makes the heart sink to read it. 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 moment-transcending language. Without the vividness of her personality, the words turn to dust.
The book was completed in the year In it she included lists of all kinds, personal thoughts, interesting events in court, poetry, and some opinions on her contemporaries. The book was first translated into English in by T. Purcell and W. According to Meredith Mckinney in the Kyoto Journal article, who contributed to the translation of The Pillow Book from Japanese into English , The Pillow Book is a special case, and it is a genre-bending miscellany of short, largely unrelated pieces.
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The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century. 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. Lady Shonagon was an erstwhile rival of Lady Murasaki, whose novel, The Tale of Genji , fictionalized the elite world Lady Shonagon so eloquently relates.