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The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (Translations from the Asian Classics) Paperback – 9 Dec 1991
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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.... A mine of information... [Morris's] translation maintains a high quality throughout.--Journal of Asian Studies
The Pillow Book is one of the three most important works of its kind in Japanese literature, and Professor Morris has given it handsome treatment.--Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland
Gives all sorts of insights into the court life of the times, and into the worldly character and mentality of its author. It comes over extraordinarily well in this translation, and can rank with any other collection of court memoirs the world over.--Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
The liveliest and most endearing of Heian writers, and the one who gives the most intimate and vivid picture of life at court.... Its denizens emerge as real and never-to-be-forgotten people.... Morris belongs to the literary rather than the literal school of translators, and his talents are shown here at their best.--Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
"[Morris's] scholarship is a living thing... he sees through all the painted paper screens.... Outstanding.--New York Times
A beautiful translation.--Japan Quarterly
A mine of information.--Journal of Asian Studies
Shonagon comes through vividly.... [Morris] has given us for the first time in full a delightful and fascinating book which is also a work of notable scholarship.--The Observer
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 eleventh-century Japan at the height of Heian culture.See all Product description
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The book is very unlike anything I have read before in its random chapter arrangement. This is essentially a diary of sorts. It is very poetic and at times funny. Sometimes I had to stop and re-read a passage that stroke me as special. Beautiful observations of nature co-exist with sharp comments about people and their behaviour.
Sei Shonagon herself is a fascinating character. She is obviously educated, but at times sounds silly and petty. Her loyalty to her Empress is very touching. At the same time she is cruel and cold towards "ordinary" people. She seems to pay too much attention to the court dress and elegant verses. Being at court is the highest honour and achievement in life for her.
Apparent promiscuity of the Heian court, which seemed to be a norm, is surprising It was also a surprise to learn that so much had been borrowed from Chinese culture and fashion. Japanese way was regarded unsophisticated and unrefined, and everybody seems to defer to Chinese tradition, fashion and literature.
I wish we new more about what happened to Sei Shonagon, but she is well hidden behind those court curtains in the depth of centuries.
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