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The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon: The Diary of a Courtesan in Tenth Century Japan
Product Description Japan in the 10th century stood physically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world. See questions and answers. Customer reviews There are no customer reviews yet. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book is one of the greatest Japanese literary works.
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon: The Diary of a Courtesan in Tenth Century Japan by Arthur Waley
It is a challenging work. Wrote during Heian era Japan over a years ago its author Sei Shonagon, as she was known at the imperial court, wrote numerous musings about her life, recorded events that happened at the palace and documented the everyday. While the subject matter may seem stuffy the reality is quite different. Sei Shonagon is funny and her musings transcend time. Her ideas on fashion, irritation with others at court and aspirations of romantic love are similar to the same topics found in contemporary literature.
The difficult part of The pillow book is that it is not really in any order. Essays, journals and lists. The Journals recollect events at the palace and life in the Heian court.
And lastly are lists. Sei Shonagon made near endless lists about numerous things. The most beautiful bridges. Considering this was wrote so long ago its a nice reminder that people, despite changes in our environment really haven't changed that much. This version is only a portion of the pillow book and as such is incomplete. While I found the cover attractive compared to other versions offered on amazon as well as other retailers this is quite an inferior offering. To truly enjoy you should purchase another version.
- Here On Moon;
- Cold Gold;
- The Cusp of Dreams;
- See a Problem?.
Arthur Waley is undoubtedly a very important figure in the translation of Asian literature into English. But, as far as Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book is concerned, he should not have undertaken this translation. He has only translated a quarter of the work and has omitted all the passages he felt were dull or required too many citations to explain.
Aug 17, Sam Wilkinson rated it it was amazing. Carly rated it really liked it Feb 23, Anne Murphie rated it liked it Jan 14, Karin rated it did not like it Feb 26, Jace rated it it was ok Jan 29, Yvonne rated it really liked it Jul 18, Rachel Macdonald rated it liked it Jun 21, Michael added it Jan 31, Abe Frank marked it as to-read Mar 07, Rick marked it as to-read Mar 08, Erica Wheadon marked it as to-read Mar 06, Jane marked it as to-read Apr 28, Krista marked it as to-read May 11, John marked it as to-read Jun 06, Becca marked it as to-read Jun 21, Had I researched this well beforehand, I would definitely have avoided this purchase.
For readers who want a shortened version of the original, to just capture the essence of this book, this purchase would be excellent. For those seeking the full text, this will disappoint. This book is described as a translation of the important court diary of Sei Shonagon. No Table of contents. No discrete "this is the translated text of what you thought you were buying. I'm returning it and looking for an actual translation.
Oh, there are some blurry plates of a not clearly identified painted screen, too. This is a vastly underrated book. She was a lady in waiting on the Empress of Japan. Her perceptions and sensitivities were as subtle, insightful and as wise as anything easily imagined during the last thousand years.
Her interior monologues are gems.
She would be a loveliest person for us to know. Unfortunately the reader must first plow through legitimate criticisms of Arthur Waley, seventy years ago the dean of Orientalists and the concluding pages are unrewarding. This is a bit of an odd book as it's a mashup of Shonagon's diary and translator Arthur Waley's opinions. Less Waley more Shonagon would have been better, but as an introduction of court life around this time, it has some merit.
But it's quite short. Even old Japan hands struggle to get through Waley's excellent 1,page translation. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations.
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