The Pillow Book of Sei Sh¯onagon, Translated [from the Japanese] and Edited by Ivan Morris Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Sei Shōnagon
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What did the pictures hung for the Perpetual Readings depict?

2. What did Shonagon say that women at the palace did not do as other women did?

3. Who did Shonagon say was splendid in spite of their low station?

4. What did Shonagon enjoy seeing men carry to and fro as the Festival approached?

5. What tree did people regard as the tree of the Divine Presence?

Short Essay Questions

1. Why was it depressing for someone to wear a white under-robe in the Eighth Month?

2. Why did the Empress give the old nun, whom the women later dubbed Hitachi no Suke, one of her own robes?

3. Why did Shonagon find it annoying when a man who was not more than an acquaintance came for a casual chat?

4. Why were Shonagon and the other women disgusted by the response of some of the servants who were carrying attractively wrapped bundles and bags when the women asked them who the packages belonged to?

5. Why did dried hollyhock produce fond memories?

6. Why did the Emperor walk toward the Empress' building while playing his flute?

7. Why did Shonagon say that there was nothing worse than a poorly dressed ox carriage driver?

8. Why did the women hit one another with gruel sticks?

9. What was the reason given for the way the snap-beetle bowed while crawling?

10. Why did Shonagon say a wickerwork carriage should move swiftly?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Midway through the book we see a shift in Shonagon's writing style to a more developed style of prose. Describe the shift. What changes in her writing style? What does it reveal about Shonagon?

Essay Topic 2

How was Shonagon's life affected by the politics of the time? What impact did they have on her living situation? How did they affect what people thought of her?

Essay Topic 3

What was Shonagon's relationship with the Empress like? Was Shonagon merely a servant or were they friends? How do we know this?

(see the answer keys)

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