A Few Notes

February 21, 2007

After a long work day there was not much time available for reading today. UPS left a couple of books I had ordered to get my study of Japanese literature started. Both of these were purchased to read in conjunction with The Tale of Genji. The first I had not heard of before and stumbled on while browsing- The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. The second was an obvious choice, The Diary of Lady Murasaki, which was a bit disappointing even though I haven’t read anything other than skimming the introduction. Between the introduction and the Appendix, there are only 62 pages of text, and it is not a series of day-to-day entries that are typically expected from a diary, but a series of vignettes.

The first section of the Introduction did teach me something. I had been confused by names of Japanese authors recently because sometimes they seemed in reverse order than what I expected. According to the “Name Notes” included, Japanese names in the book are in conventional Japanese format. This means that the family or clan name is first, and the personal name second.

Another interesting point made in the introduction to Genji is a fascinating fact describing the world of the tale. No one in the story is ever alone. A lord or lady lived surrounded by a large staff. Solitude and privacy did not exist. “A lady slept within curtains, it is true, but they were only curtains, and any number of gentelwomen slept just outside them on the floor. When a lord or lady went somewhere secretly at night, he might (at some risk to himself) take only two or three attendants with him…
Still, a lord or lady with no one but attendants or household staff nearby was alone in a way, because in an important sense such people did not count.”
Wow. A very different world.

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2 Responses to “A Few Notes”

  1. Ted Says:

    Changing my theme was impossibly easy. Under the “Presentation” tab you can just click on the new theme that you want and everything transfers. There’s a limited number to choose from, but enough that you won’t have to pick one that everyone else has.

    For the record, I like your theme.

  2. Brad Says:

    Thanks, Ted. That’s good to know. I wish there was a way to test without just making the change.


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