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The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon by Sei…

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (1596)

by Sei Shonagon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (30)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
This Folio Society edition is absolutely stunning. The translation is really good. Sei's writing is both funny and witty and offers an interesting look at Japanese palace life. ( )
  BrilliantGlow | Feb 12, 2019 |
This book is basically the author's collection of notes about life in the Imperial Court of Japan. It is comprised of opinions regarding good and bad behaviors, pleasures & dislike, and the minutiae of day-to-day life for a noblewoman who lived early in the 1st century. Sometimes witty, sometimes absurd, and often condescending. However, she knew no other life. Fascinating! ( )
  hemlokgang | Aug 30, 2017 |
Sei Shōnagon was a terrible snob! I enjoyed the passages describing events at court, conversations, and love affairs. The lists of what is and isn't good were dull. Shōnagon's attitude to those of lower rank grated on me. She seems to embody all that is worst in the rich and vacuous. Perhaps something was lost in translation, but I didn't see how she came to have a reputation as a wit. I preferred the Diary of Lady Murasaki for its observations on court life and for its intelligence. ( )
1 vote missizicks | May 27, 2015 |
A classic that needs no recommendation from me. The level of worldliness of Heian Japan is vastly superior to any other civilization of the time. It was an age when a slight variation in sleeve length or color crossed the abyss between the exquisite and the crude. It was also a time when the subtleties of the natural world, especially flowers, where minutely observed and celebrated. A beautiful and refined work, marred only by the snobbishness that often accompanies such a sensibility. ( )
  le.vert.galant | Jan 26, 2015 |
This took me a long time to work through, but I am glad to have read it! I also switched translations partway through, from Morris to McKinney. I think overall I preferred McKinney. There are heaps and heaps of annotations, which was what made this a slow read for me, but the notes are really helpful and elucidating.

My favorite sections were the lists, and the shorter vignettes. And my favorite aspect of the book overall is the way it humanizes the past. Sei Shonagon is such a STRONG personality, so flawed and interesting and real. As others have said, reading The Pillow Book is a bit like reading a blog, full of humor and snark and beauty all at once. ( )
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (92 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sei Shonagonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Birney, AlfredPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deane, JasperIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edmond, VibekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Facetti, GermanoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heijman, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Méjan, Marie-SophieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKinney, MeredithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, IvanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vos, JosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waley, ArthurTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yumiko ToriiCalligraphersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231073372, Paperback)

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is an immensely detailed account of court life in eleventh-century Japan. Written at the height of Heian culture, it is a classic text of great literary beauty, full of lively anecdotes, humorous observations, and subtle impressions. Sei Shonagon was a contemporary and erstwhile rival of Lady Murasaki, whose novel, The Tale of Genji, fictionalized the court life that Lady Shonagon captures so vividly in her diary. The Pillow Book contains her reflections on royal and religious ceremonies, nature, pilgrimage, conversation, and poetry. Lady Shonagon shares character sketches and the things she both loves and loathes. Her style is so eloquent, her wit so sharp, even the briefest fragments enchant us. There is no better introduction to the daily preoccupations of the Heian upper class, and Ivan Morris's notes and contextualization enrich the material for scholars and general readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:33 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.

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