Zen Cho's Reviews > The Diary of Lady Murasaki

The Diary of Lady Murasaki by Murasaki Shikibu
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's review
Jan 20, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: asia, historical, in-translation, written-by-poc, real-people

Unsurprisingly, I liked the personal analysis bits better than the records of rituals bits. The gossiping about the other court women bit was also good. I did find the detailed descriptions of clothes amusing; wish they'd had pictures.

The introduction by Richard Bowring was enlightening, but parts of it grated on me, though I couldn't tell you why. And it annoyed me that it was so explicitly targeted at a Western audience. The latest reprinting was in, what, 2003? C'mon.

Interesting thing I learnt from it, though: that the women at court didn't have their own names. This differed according to rank, apparently, but some people might not have had their own personal names? We don't know for sure -- Murasaki could well have had a name that just didn't survive in written records -- but it's surprisingly hard for me to get my head around the idea of not having even a secret name to call yourself.

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