The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan

The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan

by Michitsuna no Haha

Too impetuous to be satisfied as a subsidiary wife, this beautiful (and unnamed) noblewoman of the Heian dynasty protests the marriage system of her time in one of Japanese literature's earliest attempts to portray difficult elements of the predominant social hierarchy.

A classic work of early Japanese prose, The Gossamer Years is an important example of the development of Heian literature, which, at its best, represents an extraordinary flowering of realistic expression, an attempt, unique for its age, to treat the human condition with frankness and honesty.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Cultural
  • Rating: 3.72
  • Pages: 208
  • Publish Date: December 15th 1989 by Tuttle Publishing
  • Isbn10: 0804811237
  • Isbn13: 9780804811231

What People Think about "The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan"

She loves her husband, but hes an entitled asshole who has many unofficial wives and only pays them attention when theyre brand new. Her husband spends all his time dodging her messengers, parading his newest wife past her door unnecessarily, ignoring his son by Lady Mayfly, and answering her accusations with myopic, selfish justifications and rationalizations and a general refusal to be accountable for his own action.

The Heian taste for self-pity, also a feature of The Tale of Genji, is somewhat hard to take, but seems to be part of the aesthetic package.

3.5 stars Again, I thought I had never read this seemingly outdated diary written by a Noblewoman of Heian Japan in the span of 21 years, that is, from 954-974. I like No. 1 because this poem informs its readers that Mt. Fuji did smolder with its clouds of smoke one thousand years ago, No. 2 for her detailed description of the view she saw and plenty of wild edible fruit there, and No. 3 for such a sad episode in one of Japan's unpredictable political crises then. It may be a new way of printing things but, compared to those with footnote-like Notes, I found reading them more convenient by just looking down for any Note I want to know more instead of turning to the Notes section somewhere near the end. (see map: Appendix, Plate 8). Moreover, I would like to say something about her high level of literacy as expressed by means of her diary, in other words, written in ancient Japanese for her posterity and the world to see, read and understand more on the custom, culture, nature, etc. Her words are still powerful, crisp, tactful even in the 21st century, just imagine, while there was no school or education system in Japan or in the world itself she could nobly write her ideas, reflections, sufferings, etc.

The author of this book had to content herself with being a subsidiary wife and had to condone of her husband's relationships with other (8) women and his having children with them. The author spends much of her life waiting for her husband (the Prince, Fujwara Kaneie) to have some time to spare for her. Furthermore, the people were very much driven by their religion (Buddhism and Shintoism), hence all the penances and pilgrimages and art was very important to them, esp.

Wir kennen jedoch den Mann, dessen Zweitfrau sie war, einen der mächtigsten Politiker der Heian Zeit. Die Autorin ist als Zweitfrau ständig von der Furcht besetzt, durch eine Drittfrau oder durch Konkubinen ausgebootet zu werden und das dadurch entstehende Spannungsverhältnis zwischen ihr und ihrem Mann ist das zentrale Motiv des Tagebuches.

This is basically a diary of the collapse of the authors marriage.

Since it is supposed she started writing the diary somewhere round the year 971, all the years before that were written down retrospectively and as such are significantly colored by her experiences with her husband.

This woman was connected to both Sei Shonagon (author of The Pillow Book) and Murasaki Shikibu (author of The Tale of Genji) and her diary was likely to have been read by Murasaki. For example, she portrays herself as being disinterested in the Prince from the start, but the way she writes about his long periods away and her jealousy at his other affairs shows that she does care. I also saw echoes of The Tale of Genji in this the way Michitsuna wrote about The Princes philandering reminded me about Genji and his various affairs. And the way Michitsuna no Haha wrote a sympathetic note to the main wife when she realises that the Prince had yet another lover?