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The Pillow Book (Penguin Classics)

The Pillow Book (Penguin Classics)
Author: Sei Shonagon
ISBN 13: 9780140448061
ISBN 10: 140448063
Edition: Tra
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: 2007-10-30
Format: Paperback
Pages: 416
List Price: $18.00

The classic portrayal of court life in tenth-century Japan

Written by the court gentlewoman Sei Shonagon, ostensibly for her own amusement, The Pillow Book offers a fascinating exploration of life among the nobility at the height of the Heian period, describing the exquisite pleasures of a confined world in which poetry, love, fashion, and whim dominated, while harsh reality was kept firmly at a distance. Moving elegantly across a wide range of themes including nature, society, and her own flirtations, Sei Shonagon provides a witty and intimate window on a woman's life at court in classical Japan.

The Barnes & Noble Review

Once upon a time, there flourished in Japan what seems a fairy-tale civilization. From roughly 800 to 1100, the isolated island nation was at peace, governed by the shrewd Fujiwara family. This freed the rest of the aristocracy to concentrate on the important things in life: attending to the ceremonial make-believe of the emperor's court at Heian-kyo (modern-day Kyoto), playing backgammon and go, composing occasional verse on just the right kind of paper, carefully choosing one's scent and the colors of one's clothes, spending hours appreciating the evanescent beauty of flowering trees and winter snowfalls and, of course, flirting and making love in the moonlight. As one of the period's greatest writers observed, it was "a moment in the history of our country when the whole energy of the nation seemed to be concentrated upon the search for the prettiest method of mounting paper-scrolls."