Classic: The Pillow Book
- Author: Sei Shonagon
- Title: The Pillow Book
- Written: 10th C Japan
- Published: Penguin Classic (2006) 400 pages
- List Challenges 2018
- Monthly planning
- Classic Club Master list
- The tone and content of these ’thoughts’ seem very modern in outlook,
- full of interesting comments about pleasures
- (visiting, dinners, getting ready for important people)
- humour, historical commentary and analysis of
- processions, festivals and events, descriptions of nature, and
- compassion for misfortunes heard about other people.
- It’s a unique and personal diary of a 10th C lady-in-waiting in Heian Japan.
- Sei Shonagon writes for her personal
- amusement about things that
- delight and also disgust her!
Who is Sei Shonagon?
- Sei Shonagon herself is a fascinating character.
- She is obviously educated, but at times sounds silly and petty.
- Her loyalty to her Empress is very touching.
- At the same time she is cruel and cold towards “ordinary” people.
- She seems to pay too much attention to the court dress and elegant verses.
- Being at court is the highest honour and achievement in life for her.
I especially liked pg 148:
Things that make the heart lurch with anxiety…
watching a horse race…
the voice of a secret lover in an unexpected place…
when a parent looks out of sorts…
when someone you detests arrives for a visit…!
back of a piece of sewing…
hairless baby mice tumbled out of a nest…
the inside of a cat’s ear…rather dirty place in darkness…
Things that just keep passing by:
A boat with its sail up…
Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter
Things that no one notices:
The inauspicious days…
The ageing of people’s mothers…
- While reading …the song
- “These are a few of my favorite things” from
- The Sound of Music keeps…popping into my head.
- That is what Sei writes about….her favorite things,
- especially how people are dressed in 10th C imperial court.
- There is the emphasis on the art of communicating
- one’s feelings by writing a poem.
- It was considered a valuable art.
- Lovers, queens, a lady-in-waiting all revel in poetic thoughts.
- Sei also…mentions painfully embarrassing things
- disconcerting, dispiriting and horribly startling things.
- Some of her complaints and delights are very 21st C!
- People never change!
- It’s fun to visit the members page of The Classics Club
- …to see what other people are reading
- I was inspired by Karla Strand’s Classic Club List
- to read The Pillow Book.
- Karla has selected some impressive examples
- …of classic women’s writing!
- #TakeALook at the ‘Members Page’
- …you can discover some great book!