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The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan

Paperback - 15 December 1989
ISBN-13 : 9780804811231
Rp 207,000
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Description

Kagero Nikki, translated here as The Gossamer Years, belongs to the same period as the celebrated Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikuibu.

This remarkably frank autobiographical diary and personal confession attempts to describe a difficult relationship as it reveals two tempestuous decades of the author's unhappy marriage and her growing indignation at rival wives and mistresses.

Too impetuous to be satisfied as a subsidiary wife, this beautiful (and unnamed) noblewoman of the Heian dynasty protests the marriage system of her time in one of Japanese literature's earliest attempts to portray difficult elements of the predominant social hierarchy.

A classic work of early Japanese prose, The Gossamer Years is an important example of the development of Heian literature, which, at its best, represents an extraordinary flowering of realistic expression, an attempt, unique for its age, to treat the human condition with frankness and honesty. A timeless and intimate glimpse into the culture of ancient Japan, this translation by Edward Seidensticker paints a revealing picture of married life in the Heian period.

Customer Reviews

1 customer reviews Between 4−5 stars rating, 06 November 2014
The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan
By: http://sveta-randomblog.blogspot.com

Kagero Nikki, translated here as The Gossamer Years, belongs to the same period as the celebrated Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikuibu. This remarkably frank autobiographical diary and personal confession attempts to describe a difficult relationship as it reveals two tempestuous decades of the author's unhappy marriage and her growing indignation at rival wives and mistresses. Too impetuous to be satisfied as a subsidiary wife, this beautiful (and unnamed) noblewoman of the Heian dynasty protests the marriage system of her time in one of Japanese literature's earliest attempts to portray difficult elements of the predominant social hierarchy. A classic work of early... See More

Japanese prose, The Gossamer Years is an important example of the development of Heian literature, which, at its best, represents an extraordinary flowering of realistic expression, an attempt, unique for its age, to treat the human condition with frankness and honesty. A timeless and intimate glimpse into the culture of ancient Japan, this translation by Edward Seidensticker paints a revealing picture of married life in the Heian period.

There are parts of the diary that I enjoyed such as poetry and nature descriptions, but I have to admit that her writing pales when comparing her to Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu. I do think that she did influence Tale of Genji, in particular the locust episode, or when the Prince wrote a long response to the author along with her adopting a girl. What I found a bit annoying is the endnotes. I am sorry, but I'm not a fan of endnotes and often prefer footnotes to endnotes. I also got an impression that I would learn a lot about Heian Era marriage from her diary, but unfortunately I barely learned anything about the era straight from the diary, although the supplemental information added by the translator is very helpful. PS, love the cover.

 

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