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Sei Shonagon

Japanese writer
Born: c.966?

Sei Shonagon was a prominent writer of Japan’s Heian era (794–1185). She is remembered for her Pillow Book (Makura no soshi), a collection of personal anecdotes, poems, essays, lists, and gossip. It evokes the colorful world of the royal court with memorable characters such as vain women who paint their teeth and let their hair grow to their ankles, royal cats that rank higher than human officials, and lazy, unreliable exorcists. Murasaki Shikibu, author of the novel The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari) and Sei’s chief rival, called Sei “frivolous” and said that she was talented but too emotional. However, Sei’s work remains important for its artful, engaging writing as well as its vivid portrait of Heian court life.

See also Encyclopedia: Sei Shonagon.

Died: ?

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