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An Imperial Concubine's Tale: Scandal, Shipwreck, and Salvation in Seventeenth-Century Japan
by G.G. Rowley (Goodreads Author)
Japan in the early seventeenth century was a wild place. Serial killers stalked the streets of Kyoto at night, while noblemen and women mingled freely at the imperial palace, drinking sake and watching kabuki dancing in the presence of the emperor's principal consort. Among these noblewomen was an imperial concubine named Nakanoin Nakako, who in 1609 became embroiled in a ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 18th 2012 by Columbia University Press
(first published December 11th 2012)
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Sep 19, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it · review of another edition
A certain basic familiarity with the Warring States period of Japanese feudal history would be useful delving in this well researched study. The tale is dramatic and spicy (but not too spicy) in turns. This is not just the story of a single life (one without very much documentation for much of it) but a series of separate, but linked, dramas played out over the course of about 40 years. The author and researcher—the scholar—gives us a carefully weighed description of each piece of the story, a c ...more
There is much to admire about G.G. Rowley's book. She has taken on the difficult task of tracing the life of Nakako, an imperial concubine in 17th century Japan. With little record of the lives of women remaining, Rowley's role is similar to that of a detective, assiduously and perceptively piecing together what Nakako's life must have been like from a wide variety of sources. And what a life Nakako had -- as the title says, scandal, shipwreck, and salvation! Rowley brings to vivid life a place ...more
Fascinating tale of a sex scandal that rocked the emperor's court in Japan in the seventeenth century - just as James I was on the throne in Britain. It involved courtiers and court ladies slipping away to small rough huts on the outskirts of town and coincided with the beginnings of the kabuki theatre. Beautifully told and documented.
See my review:
See my review:
An impeccably researched and elegantly written account of the imperial concubine Nakanoin Nakako, reconstructed from contemporary sources and drawing on the author's extensive historical and literary familiarity with premodern Japan. Through detailed scholarly detective work, the author reveals the life of a woman who left no personal writings and is only known through the traces she left in those of others.
One of the many pleasures of a lifetime spent in research, teaching, and writing is never needing an excuse to sit down with a good book. My Goodreads lists highlight some of the books that I've most enjoyed reading over the past several years, together with a few favourites from as far back as my Australian childhood.More about G.G. Rowley...