The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon

The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon

The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon

The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon

Excerpt

When the first volume of The Tale of Genji appeared in English, the prevailing comment of critics was that the book revealed a subtle and highly developed civilization, the very existence of which had hitherto remained unsuspected. It was guessed that so curious a state of society, with its rampant æstheticism and sophisticated unmorality, its dread of the explicit, the emphatic, must have behind it a protracted history of undisturbed development, or (as others put it) must be the climax of an age-long decadence.

And it is indeed true that the unique civilization portrayed in the Tale of Genji and The Pillow-Book ofSei Shōnagon corresponds to a unique record of isolation and tranquillity. The position of Japan, lying on the edge of the . . .

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