枕草子 (英文版) - The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon (タトルクラシックス ) (英語) ハードカバー – 2011/2/11
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Japan in the 10th century stood physically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world. Inside this bubble, a subtle and beautiful world was in operation, and its inhabitants were tied to the moment, having no interest in the future and disdain for the past.
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon was a product of a tenth century courtier's experiences in the palace of Empress Teishi. A common custom of the time period, courtiers used to keep notes or a diary in a wooden pillow with a drawer. This "pillow book" reflects the confident aesthetic judgments of Shonagon and her ability to create prose that crossed into the realm of the poetic. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is one of the earliest examples of diary literature whose passages chronicle the events of the court calendar, the ceremonies and celebrations specific to Teishi's court, and the vignettes that provide brilliantly drawn glimpses into the manners and foibles of the aristocracy.
A contemporary of Murasaki Shikibu, the author of The Tale of Genji, this small diary brings an added dimension to Murasaki's timeless and seminal work.
Arthur Waley's elegant translation of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon captures the beauty of its prose and the vitality of Shonagon's narrative voice, as well as her quirky personality traits. In a place and time where poetry was as important as knowledge and beauty was highly revered, Sei Shonagon's private writings give the reader a charming and intimate glimpse into a time of isolated innocence and pale beauty.
"His [Waley] is the most appealing version for the general reader." —Michael Dirda, Pulitzer-prize winning columnist
"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 Sho-nagon's commentary brings an added dimension to that timeless and seminal work." —Svetlana's Reads and Views blog
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta)
I want to mention what I consider a gross error in the title. She was certainly not a courtesan: she was at the Imperial court, an entirely different situation. An upper class woman, she knew many ladies and gentlemen of the court. She is witty and her stories are often amusing.
This undoubtedly may be the case, but as a fan of Japanese literature and the Zuihitsu genre, and having already read Kenko's Tsurezuregusa, I think I would rather be the judge of what is dull.
Had I researched this well beforehand, I would definitely have avoided this purchase. For readers who want a shortened version of the original, to just capture the essence of this book, this purchase would be excellent. For those seeking the full text, this will disappoint.
The difficult part of The pillow book is that it is not really in any order. depending on the publisher the book is usually divided in sections: Essays, journals and lists. the essays are usually her thoughts on life, her feelings and her ideas about things. The Journals recollect events at the palace and life in the Heian court. And lastly are lists. Sei Shonagon made near endless lists about numerous things. The most beautiful bridges. Noises that irritate. Considering this was wrote so long ago its a nice reminder that people, despite changes in our environment really haven't changed that much.
This version is only a portion of the pillow book and as such is incomplete. While I found the cover attractive compared to other versions offered on amazon as well as other retailers this is quite an inferior offering. To truly enjoy you should purchase another version.
Yes, Waley only translated a small part of the work, and yes, there are much better translations; I am fond of the Ivan Morris, as it is the one I have read repeatedly. I must say, the fact that whoever did the copy for this obviously has no idea what they are talking about doesn't make me trust that this e-book of Waley's translation is actually well put together. I would not bother to spend the money on this unless you are a completist.