In this study, I address the issue of women’s humour and laughter in Heian Japan , particularly as handled in Sei Shonagon’s Makura no soshi. book of observations and musings recorded by Sei Shōnagon during her time as court lady to Empress Consort Teishi (定子) during the s. However, when we read the collection of “essays” contained in Makura-no-Soshi (The Pillow Book), most of them do not allow us to exercise.

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By examining some of the scenes in which women laugh in unison, I attempt to ident ify the sources and functions of their laughter as represented in the text. If anything, they will more likely question their personal responsibility. Sei Shonagon is very arrogant.

Japanese language, Heian Period language research. In Japan such kind of idle notes are generally referred to as the zuihitsu genre. How we read a given story and how we imagine it unfolding is entirely up to us.

Makura no soshi

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The discrepancy only comes in whether they makkra a positive or negative view of the same situation.

Peter Greenaway released his film The Makurra Book in This article is about the Japanese book. Is that how we define a work of literature? Sei Shonagon has been described as arrogant and confrontational by many readers, according to Penney and Matthew. During the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, Japanese men typically wrote in Chinese, using characters, while Japanese women wrote exclusively in their native tongue, jo hiragana, a syllabary derived from Chinese characters Penney and Matthew.


Click here to read this article from Thompson Rivers University. Retrieved from ” https: In it she included lists of all kinds, personal thoughts, interesting events in court, poetry, and some opinions on her contemporaries.

Category:Makura no Soshi emaki

These readers may nod their heads in agreement, but would likely also fail to experience any sympathy or pity for the people involved. Views Read Edit View history. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to view this page as intended. Retrieved 16 November Although readers would understand the examples that the author gives, these examples would also raise further questions. If we supplement the text and translate it into casual makurz, we get the following. He assumed his current position in During the Heian period, women had a role in society Smartphone and Tablet users click here to sign up for our weekly email.

In this way, the assessments of both women are in alignment.

Makura no soshi

Those who want to behave as if they were superior to others will lower their reputation. Despite the sighing and lamentation that dominate Heian literature, and the declining political influence of the court in which the author serves as a lady-in-waiting, Sei creates a narrative saturated with humour and laughter.


The people in the imperial court were expected to be well educated in writing. The book was first translated into English in by T. From a historical perspective, Lady Murasaki hits the nail on the head. We can find the meaning of all this by consulting a dictionary of archaic language. Once questions are raised, sosgi inevitably begin to think about them. Salem Press Encyclopedia, More generally, a pillow book is a collection of notebooks or notes which have been collated to show a period of someone or something’s life.

University of California Press.

Women’s In-jokes in Heian Japan: Makura no soshi –

Features Soxhi women usually shed are replaced by exuberant laughter and jokes, especially in passages that recount moments of intense vulnerability and instability for the female attendants to empress Teishi.

That is the joy of literature. Both the author’s sophisticated sense and her eye for particular things are fused; for if one compares the sentimentality of mono no aware the Pathos of Things as found in ” The Tale of Genji “, similar beauty of the world is revealed through the use of the intellectual word okashi lovely in this piece.

Japanese Wikisource has original text related to this article: