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The Pillow Book (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 30, 2007
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About the Author
Sei Shonagon was born approximately a thousand years ago (965 is a likely date) and served as lady-in-waiting at the Court of the Japanese Empress during the last decade of the tenth century. Her father was a provincial official, but is best known as a poet and a scholar. It is possible, though unlikely, that Shonagon was briefly married to a government official, by whom she may have had a son. Her life after her Court service came to an end is totally obscure. There is a tradition that she died in lonely poverty: but this is probably an invention of moralists who were shocked by her promiscuity and thought she deserved retribution. Our knowledge of Shonagon's life and character rests almost exclusively on the Pillow Book itself.
Top customer reviews
If you could wish for world peace or Sei Shonagon writing a blog, what would her first post be about?
In Sei's world, what people wore, how they combined the colors of their clothing was very complicated and most important for men and women so we get detailed descriptions of who wore what and how he or she looked in it (there was a Bureau of Clothing in the imperial palace). She has strong opinion about style and taste but she hardly mentions facial features and body types. In the love affairs and romantic interests, it was taste and sensibility, not physical appearance, that were the focus. She sights that the man you love and the same man once you've lost all feelings for him seem like two completely different people. It was a joy to read Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book in Meredith McKinney's translation.
At turns gossipy or poetic, this 10th century diary reads like a blog, evoking life at the Imperial Court or on pilgrimage, listing irritating things or cattily writing off another courtier because he just WON'T write decent poetry.
Most recent customer reviews
Sei Shonagon is absolutely lovely with her use of language.