Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Pillow Book #148

from Sei Shonagon
"#148 - Repulsive things – The back of a piece of sewing. Hairless baby mice tumbled out of their nest. The seams of a leather robe before the lining’s been added. The inside of a cat’s ear. A rather dirty place in darkness.

A very ordinary woman looking after lots of children. The way a man must feel when his wife, who he’s not really very fond of, is ill for a long time."


Sei Shonagon (965 to 1017) had a strong personality - her proclamations, observations and anecdotes in The Pillow Book never cease to delight and puzzle. It's a peep into a world that is about as far removed from today (in the west) as you can get. Liverputty has hijacked her to be our woman from the Heian Court. Translated by Meredith McKinney.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Pillow Book #65, #66, #67

from Sei Shonagon
"#65 – Poetic anthologiesThe Manyoshu. The Kokinshu.

#66 – Topics of poetry – The capital. The kudzu vine. The water burr. Horses. Hail.

#67 – Disturbing things – The mother of a monk who’s embarked on the twelve-year mountain retreat.

The retainers who accompany their master on a visit to some unfamiliar place on a moonless night – to avoid being seen, they don’t light a fire but just sit there in a row, waiting uneasily in the darkness for him to reappear.

You give a servant, whom you don’t really know and trust yet, some precious thing to take to someone, and then she’s late returning.

A child who’s still too young to talk throws his little head back and bursts into tears, and won’t let anyone pick him up and comfort him."


Sei Shonagon (965 to 1017) is the author of the timeless classic, The Pillow Book, which is part diary, part lists, and a whole lot of strange and strong opinions packed into a single volume. For an undetermined space of time, Miss Sei will serve as Liverputty's courtesan from Kyoto during the high point of the Heian Court period. Translated by Meredith McKinney.