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Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon

The Diary of a Courtesan in Tenth Century Japan

Arthur Waley Dennis Washburn

$14.99

Paperback

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Tuttle
01 June 2020
In the tenth century, Japan stood physically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world. Sei Shonagon a young courtesan of the Heian period kept a diary, which provides a highly personal account of the intrigues, dalliances, quirks, and habits of Japan's late tenth-century elite.

She was a contemporary and acquaintance of the well-known courtesan Murasaki Shikibu, author of the Japanese masterpiece The Tale of Genji. A perfect companion to that work, The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon brings an added dimension to Murasaki's timeless and seminal novel and further illuminates Japanese court life in all its ritualistic glory.

Through his elegant and readable abridged translation, Arthur Waley perfectly conveys Sei Shonagon's girlish temperament and quirky personality. In a place and time where poetry was as important as knowledge and beauty was highly revered, Sei Shonagon's private writings offer a charming, intimate glimpse into a world of innocence and pale beauty.

A new introduction by respected Japanese literary scholar Dennis Washburn provides historical insight into Japanese culture, Sei Shonagon's world, and Waley's translation.
By:   Arthur Waley, Dennis Washburn
Imprint:   Tuttle
Country of Publication:   Japan
Dimensions:   Height: 130mm,  Width: 203mm, 
Weight:   170g
ISBN:   9784805314623
ISBN 10:   4805314621
Pages:   128
Publication Date:   01 June 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Arthur Waley (1889-1966) taught himself Chinese and Japanese after being appointed Assistant Keeper of Oriental Prints and Manuscripts at the British Museum to help catalogue the paintings in the museum's collection. He went on to renown as one of the most respected translators of Asian classics into English of his time. His long list of translated works includes The Tale of Genji, Monkey (The Journey to the West), The Noh Plays of Japan and The Analects of Confucius. Dennis Washburn is Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Translating Mount Fuji: Modern Japanese Fiction and the Ethics of Identity and translator of Temple of the Wild Geese and Bamboo Dolls of Echizen.

Reviews for Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon: The Diary of a Courtesan in Tenth Century Japan

In a small diary, a young courtesan of the Heian period gives her account of the Japanese courts of the day, providing perspective on a unique time in Japanese history. A contemporary of Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genji, Sei Shonagon's commentary brings an added dimension to that timeless and seminal work. -Svetlana's Reads and Views blog His [Waley's] is the most appealing version for the general reader. -Michael Dirda, Pulitzer-prize winning columnist


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