Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Makura no Soshi: Reading

A reminder that to be comfortably on schedule, be read this week to section 99 of Makura no Soshi [ 枕草子 ] - Pillow Tales by Sei Shonagon [ 清少納言] circa 1000 AD.

Following up on my comment that "Sei Shonagon" is not the author's name as we understand people's names, "shonagaon"[ 少納言 ] is Heian Japanese for "[minor] councillor" - in other words, an honorific way to designate her court function - and "Sei" [ 清 ] is an alternative way to read the name of the clan-family into which she was born: specifically "Kiyohara" [ 清原 ].

This is similar to the name "Genji" - Gen [ 源 ] is an alternative way to read the kanji for "Minamoto" and ji [ 氏 ] is a kanji for "family." As we will hear, "Genji"'s father, the Emperor, decided for political reasons (mainly one of his mothers-in-law playing Agrippina) to make him a commoner and thus bestowed on him the honourary surname "Minamoto" customary in such occasions.

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