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Gloria De Luca
September 22, 2011
She had her pet peeves; she would have contributed to Tuesday's post:
A man who has nothing in particular to recommend him discusses all sorts of subjects at random as if he knew everything.
Not much is known about Sei Shonagon's life, except for her period at the Japanese court.
But that's certainly enough since we have her famous pillowbook.
Wise, funny, so modern, (even in translation), certainly the liveliest of Heian writers, and while she lived over 1100 years ago, you'd know her today.
Her name, "Shonagon" refers to the position she held at court (Minor Counselor); "Sei" is the name of her family.
Entry from Chapter 134 some years before e-mail:
Letters are commonplace enough, yet what splendid things they are! When someone is in a distant province and one is worried about him, and then a letter suddenly arrives, one feels as though one were seeing him face to face.
Her book is made up of about 320 separate sections — Reminiscences. Opinions. Dislikes. Likes.
Over half of her book is made of lists.
A list of elegant things:
A white coat worn over a violet waistcoat.
A rosary of rock chrystals.
A list of rare things:
A son-in-law who's praised by his wife's father. Likewise, a wife who's loved by her mother-in-law.
A pair of silver tweezers that can actually pull out hairs properly.
A retainer who doesn't speak ill of his master.
Copying out a tale or a volume of poems without smearing any ink on the book you're copying from. If you're copying it from some beautiful bound book, you try to take immense care, but somehow you always manage to get ink on it.
Two women, let alone a man and a woman, who vow themselves to each other forever, and actually manage to remain on good terms to the end.
It’s fitting on Dear Diary Day that not only her pillow knew her, but we get to know her as well.
"Argumentum ad hominem" can get in the way of a good argument.