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Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics$
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Wm. Theodore de Bary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153973

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153973.001.0001

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The Pillow Book

The Pillow Book

Chapter:
(p.231) 17 The Pillow Book
Source:
Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics
Author(s):

Wm. Theodore de Bary

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231153973.003.0019

This chapter discusses the Pillow Book (Makura no sōshi) by Sei Shōnagon. The Pillow Book lacks many of the recognized features of the traditional classic, especially unity of time and place, plot, and sustained narrative. Yet this is precisely what renders it both traditional and classic: the strong sense of place, of local color, of particularity and endless variety, to which Shōnagon responds with her own acute sensibility. It is precisely the insistent self-revelation of Shōnagon herself that is endlessly attractive and impressive. Considering the formidable handicaps and disabilities that she suffered in the male-dominated class system of Heian Japan, in her own way, simply by asserting herself, Shōnagon triumphed over them.

Keywords:   Asian classics, classic texts, Pillow Book, Sei Shōnagon, Makura no sōshi

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