Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book

900 Words4 Pages
Sex is power. It has defined nation after nation for centuries. The berdaches of the Mexica, the harems of Arabia, and the concubines of Japan are only snapshots of how sex is a major factor in the equation of society. Sei Shonagon was a brilliant author, penning the first novel in the history of the world. After the Tale of Genji, she continued to write, giving the Asian world the Pillow Book. She understood the pull of sex. She knew that people found it attractive to read about, especially when paired with the intrigue of the royal courts. The Pillow Book was real. It was a glimpse into the lives of aristocracy, anecdotes and character sketches of things that people wanted to see. Her imagery, narrative style, and knowledge of what the people wanted to read made the…show more content…
The work has the typical flow of a good story. The man is leaving his lover when he sees the open window of another woman. They flirt. They converse. The most important thing on his mind is being late for official duty. This was probably very appealing for a less wealthy reader who would love the idea of such a trivial worry. In this narrative style, Shonagon speaks on what would be important in the material Japanese culture. The clothing, the job, the lattice, the lacquered headdress of the man, the careless attitude toward sex, are all markers of a culture focused on material gain and on the pride of aristocracy. Shonagon uses the fact that she is a woman writer, drawing on things that the reader, especially the female reader, would want to know. She is able to appeal to both genders through her writing style, because everyone loves a good story. Her words are able to weave a story together as well as they paint the imagery of the scene. Her ability to weave the elements of what the people wanted into the story made her such a well loved

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