The Pillow Book of Sei Sh¯onagon, Translated [from the Japanese] and Edited by Ivan Morris Summary & Study Guide

Sei Shōnagon
This Study Guide consists of approximately 31 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Translated [from the Japanese] and Edited by Ivan Morris.
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The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Translated [from the Japanese] and Edited by Ivan Morris Summary & Study Guide Description

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Translated [from the Japanese] and Edited by Ivan Morris Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Translated [from the Japanese] and Edited by Ivan Morris by Sei Shōnagon.

The Pillow Book is a journal written by a tenth-century lady-in-waiting to the Empress of Japan. The author is Sei Shonagon, and she was given some notebooks that were lying around the Palace that no one else wanted. The Pillow Book is her journal, and the topics she covers are varied. She writes poetry in her journal, gossips about the people in the court, and writes about the wonders of nature.

There is no real plot in The Pillow Book, although there are recurring characters and themes. Some of her recurring themes include beauty, position, and nature. Recurring characters are other courtiers, especially the Emperor and Empress. Shonagon's life consists of taking care of the Empress, preparing for festivals and special occasions, and going on pilgrimages to temples. Occasionally, she goes home to visit her family, but after many years at the Palace, the Palace feels like her real home.

Some of the entries are stories of things that have happened at the palace or stories she has heard from others. Some of the stories are ancient stories or myths or fables, much as we would tell folk tales or fairy tales. Much of the poetry included in The Pillow Book is poetry made up on the spot to fill a need in a conversation or to bridge a gap in a relationship or apologize for something.

Some entries are lists. These lists always have a heading, such as "Embarassing Things." The rest of the entry will be a list of embarrassing things. Some of the things will be accompanied by a long description or perhaps even a story, but other things will just be nouns followed by periods. These lists are never dull, especially because they feel so contemporary.

Shonagon's style of writing is very enjoyable, partly because she is so light-hearted and happy. She doesn't dwell on things that go wrong and seems to have an unfailing optimism. She sees herself in a very good light, perhaps better than other people do, but when it's your own journal, you can write it any way you want to.

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