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 was wrong with the appearance of the escorts that Shonagon saw while visiting the palace to see the horses on the first day of the First Month?

2. What did Yukinari say he could not stand in a woman?

3. What did the bedraggled and injured dog do that convinced Shonagon he was Okinamaro?

4. Who did most people consider as "unimportant as a piece of wood?"

5. What was nice to hear while snuggling under the covers with a lover in the winter?

Short Essay Questions

1. In "Smaller Shirakawa," why did Shonagon and her companions leave the morning service early?

2. How did Shonagon describe the life of a priest?

3. Why did Shonagon say that young herbs peeking through the snow were unexpected near the Palace?

4. Why did Tsunefusa begin calling Shonagon Grass Hut?

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

6. The herbal balls hung on the pillars of the Empress' palace during the Festival of the Fifth Month were supposed to last until the next Chrysanthemum Festival. Why didn't they last until then?

7. 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?

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

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

10. Why didn't Shonagon like the husbands of nurse-maids?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What is the significance of The Pillow Book? Why is it important to Japanese history? What is it's linguistic significance?

Essay Topic 2

How did Shonagon's personality develop from the time when she was first a lady-in-waiting to the time when she wrote the book? What changed about her? What may have brought those changes about?

Essay Topic 3

Describe life in the women's apartments. What were the apartments like and why did Shonagon enjoy living there?

(see the answer keys)

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