Sei Shonagon: Pillow Book (2195 words)


A diary? An autobiography or a collection of personal essays? A carefully constructed political statement? Randomly jotted notes? Some sort of proto-blog? The first challenge in discussing The Pillow Book, written in the ancient capital of Japan a millennium ago, is how it should be categorized. Critics sometimes locate this idiosyncratic text within the genre of nikki, which is similar to the Western “diary”, although without dated entries and more often than not composed retrospectively. Other times it is called a zuihitsu, a very Japanese term that literally means “following the brush”, or “miscellany”, but even in the context of the native literary history it stands out as a singular work. The h…

Citation: Henitiuk, Valerie. "Pillow Book". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 January 2011 [, accessed 04 December 2021.]

25299 Pillow Book 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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