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.
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