Monday, November 26, 2007

The Pillow Book

I began reading "The Pillow Book"
not knowing what to expect.

I immediately was impressed.
This translation by Meredith McKinney gives a nice short background into the Heian period of Japanese history. She also gives us a short history of Sei Shonagon.

I am using the journal my daughter gave me as a place to begin my lists, my insights, my opinions and my anecdotes.
Reading Sei Shonagon has opened my eyes even wider to the natural world.

I also love the descriptions of the clothing.
She talks of silks and brocades.
She tells about the different colored inner layers.
Now that I am in winter clothes I have begun to layer.
I am thinking about bringing color to these layers.
I ordered silk long underwear.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I give up...I will have to purchase this and join you with your read.

Q said...

Hi Lisa,
I hope you will join in!
Here we can discuss back and forth our impressions and inspirations. I started writing a list of all the motifs of Autumn in my journal.
This morning while I was dressing for the day I realized I was layering my clothes. It will warm up this afternoon and I will not need all the layers. As I was dressing I thought of the robes and the underpinnings Sei Shonagon describes in The Pilllow Book,
"...cloak of lavender silk gauze, with lavender brocade gathered trousers over deep maroon under-trousers and a shift of brilliant stiff white silk beneath the cloak." WOW! What an outfit.
I have been thinking about ordering a few pairs of silk long underwear for this winter.
After breakfast I did so! I ordered black. I am not ready for lavender just yet. Maybe by the time I finish the book I will wear lavender or red or even turquosise long underwear! I did put on a pair of pink leg warmers! The Pillow Book inspired me. Let me know what you think.

Cathy said...

Yes Pillowbook time ! Trust you'll enjoy the book. I love her the list. They very funny at times. At time she can be a tab snobbiness at times but enjoy the book

Oh course, I can't help myself but think of Ewan McGregor in the movie Pillowbook. Chinese characters on Ewan's body does go good together :-)

Q said...

Hi Cathy,
I am so slow! Finally the book arrived and finally I have begun to read and post! Thank you for waiting so long on me.
So far I am enjoying every word. I do laugh. I can see why you say she can be somewhat snobby. It does come across that way sometimes. I was thinking how difficult it would be to translate such an old journal. I am not sure English even has as many words as Japanese.
Plus how could we even really know what Sei Shonagon was saying. So much of her world was based on ancient, for her, poems and stories. Her traditions were so different than mine.
I am inspired. I want lots of beautiful clothes now. I looked ahead and saw she has a list of birds. That would be fun to write.
I made a note to watch the film "Pillowbook". I am unfamiliar with Ewan McGregor. I am looking forward to this movie.
Are you doing any writing? I always enjoy your poems.

Cathy said...

Fair warning about Pillowbook movie, it's kinda weird at times but interesting to watch. Plus Ewan is nude in half the movie. Part of the storyline does come from Sei Shonagon book.

There's has debate whether or not she wrote all of it or even if she wrote it at all. I have a good book about the Heian period. Right now, it's somewhere in my too many books But I'll pull it for the group.

As for the poems, I've have news ones. I just need to type them up. Was going do them on Sunday but spent the time on B& I'll look over what I got and post a new one tomorrow.

Q said...

Hi Cathy,
I like weird movies! I will let you know what I think after I watch McGregor in "Pillow book".
Thank you for looking for the book on the Heian period. I think it would be a good companion read. I know so very little about the Japanese culture.
Looking forward to reading more poems. I will pop over this evening.