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Pillow Book Sei Shonagon Kira Aarestad Feb. 25 th, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Pillow Book Sei Shonagon Kira Aarestad Feb. 25 th, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pillow Book Sei Shonagon Kira Aarestad Feb. 25 th, 2009

2 Sei Shonagon The writing of The Pillow Book would have been written shortly before and after the year 1000 Court environment. Sei Shonagon, like Murasaki Shikibu, was a lady-in-waiting to an empress at this time, too, but to the older, retired Empress Sadako, who evidently conducted a more relaxed court. Sei Shonagon has the reputation of being the most natural wit in the history of Japanese literature. Strong personality and character; not afraid to write what she thinks and sees.

3 The Pillow Book The Pillow Book is so called because the author tells about the Empress receiving a "bundle of notebooks" that she didn't know what to do with, Shonagon particularly liked to make lists of things. There are 164 lists in the book's "1098 closely printed pages," but, beyond this, "Shonagon's collection contains nature descriptions, diary entries, character sketches, and anecdotes... a list of 'awkward things', The textual history is such that no one can be sure that the order of items even approximates either the original order or that finally intended by the author. "reveals a complicated, intelligent, well- informed woman who was quick, impatient, keenly observant of detail, high-spirited, witty, emulative, sensitive to the charms and beauties of the world and the pathos of things, yet intolerant and callous about people whom she regarded as her social or intellectual inferiors." Ivan Morris

4 The Ancient Heian Capital During Akitada � s time, the capital of Japan was Heian Kyo, the modern Kyoto. Founded in 794, it remained the capital until the 13 th century and the seat of the emperor until 1869. They also needed rivers to the west and east, and a large pond to the south. The reasons for these geographic features were based on fears of evil influences which could approach a city from all sides. Beyond these considerations, the layout of Heian Kyo followed strict rules of order. It was to be rectangular, bisected by a major north-south avenue, intersected at precise distances by north- south and east-west roads forming a grid pattern, and the seat of government had to occupy the northernmost center, forming a walled rectangular imperial city within the capital. Such orderliness of planning pervaded much of the political thought of the time, and Akitada is thoroughly versed in the teachings of Confucian order and harmony. He strongly disapproves of disorder. from Ivan Morris, The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagon

5 What do you notice about the photo? What might we know about life as a “lady- in-waiting”?

6 The Pillow Book excerpts From “Depressing Things” With much bustle and excitement a young man has moved into the house of a certain family as the daughter’s husband. One day he fails to come home, and it turns out that some high-ranking court lady has taken him as her lover. How depressing! “Will he eventually tire of the woman and come back to us?” his wife’s family wonder ruefully. From “Hateful Things” One is telling a story about old times when someone breaks in with a little detail that he happens to know, implying that one’s own version is inaccurate– disgusting behavior. What do these excerpts tell us about Shonagon’s message AND life in Japan?

7 The Pillow Book assignment Each group will read a selection from Sei Shonagon’s “Pillow Book” Each group should then write a brief summary of their tale and illustrate it. Groups should also include any quotes that reveal aspects of Heian Japan court life and briefly analyze them. Once posters are completed, each group member will share one image or a quote. Collectively, the group will identify and select five (5) examples to share with the class.

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