Book Excerpt! Unbinding The Pillow Book: The Many Lives of a Japanese Classic (chapter 1)

Ivanova’s work is a fascinating exploration of the reception, reproduction, and reimagination of Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book over time, focusing in particular on book history and publishing cultures of the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries.

~Keller Kimbrough, University of Colorado, Boulder

On Monday you read about Sei Shōnagon, a highly educated woman who felt the weight of patriarchal limitations in her time, and whose story repeats itself to this very day. In today’s excerpt of chapter 1 “What is The Pillow Book?,” Gergana Ivanova introduces us to The Pillow Book and its complex history. In Unbinding The Pillow Book: The Many Lives of a Japanese Classic, Gergana explores how The Pillow Book and its author have been read from the seventeenth century to the present. She shows how various ideologies have influenced the text and shaped interactions among its different versions, in the first book-length study in English of the reception history of Sei Shōnagon.

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