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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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 – Wikimedia Commons

She thinks herself so clever and litters her writings with Chinese characters, but when you look at them carefully you will find many errors. When we read a piece of literature, the words strung together on the page stimulate our imaginations as pictures begin to take shape in our minds. Sign up to get a Weekly Email from Medievalists. Without further explanation, we would think that this section would feature a list of things that people experience as disappointing.

Is Makura-no-Soshi literature? | Features | CHUO UNIVERSITY -Knowledge into Action-

Nor would they be unfamiliar with the specific regrettable examples she cites. East Wind Melts the Ice: By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This article is about the Japanese book. Looking at this text from a modern perspective, it belongs more in the realm of philosophy or science than in literature. Women In World History Curriculum. In Japan such kind of idle notes are generally referred to as the zuihitsu genre.


Sei Shonagon is very arrogant. How doshi read a given story and how we imagine it unfolding is entirely up to us. Japanese language, Heian Period language research.

He assumed his current position in Will their future be brighter? 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.

The people in the imperial court were expected to be well educated makjra writing.

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In other words, it is our false hopes that actually give rise to social disappointments. The people who experience these kinds of social disappointments may place the blame outside of themselves on the court, on the adopted child, or on the adopted son-in-lawbut an objective observer can clearly see that the problem really lies with the person themselves.

Makura no soshi

From a historical perspective, Lady Murasaki hits the nail on the head. 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 sishi narrative saturated with humour and laughter. Those who want to behave as if they were superior to others will lower their reputation.


The book was completed in the year Although readers would understand the examples that the author gives, these maakura would also raise further questions. Tears 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.

During the Heian period, women had a role in society Meanwhile, Sei Shonagon makes the following declaration.

Category:Makura no Soshi emaki

The Heian period was essential to the aristocratic people. These readers may nod their heads in agreement, but would likely also fail to experience any sympathy or pity for the people involved.

Peter Greenaway released his film The Pillow Book in We can find the meaning of all this by consulting a dictionary of archaic language. To paraphrase, we soshl with the proposition that the results of an evaluation are dependent on the criteria on which it is based.

Is that how we define a work of literature?