The Sarashina Diary

The Sarashina Diary

A Woman's Life in Eleventh-century Japan

Book - 2014
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A thousand years ago, a young Japanese girl embarked on a journey from the wild East Country to the capital. She began a diary that she would continue to write for the next forty years and compile later in life, bringing lasting prestige to her family.

Some aspects of the author's life and text seem curiously modern. She married at age thirty-three and identified herself as a reader and writer more than as a wife and mother. Enthralled by romantic fiction, she wrote extensively about the disillusioning blows that reality can deal to fantasy. The Sarashina Diary is a portrait of the writer as reader and an exploration of the power of reading to shape one's expectations and aspirations.

As a person and an author, this writer presages the medieval era in Japan with her deep concern for Buddhist belief and practice. Her narrative's main thread follows a trajectory from youthful infatuation with romantic fantasy to the disillusionment of age and concern for the afterlife; yet, at the same time, many passages erase the dichotomy between literary illusion and spiritual truth. This new translation captures the lyrical richness of the original text while revealing its subtle structure and ironic meaning. The introduction highlights the poetry in the Sarashina Diary and the juxtaposition of poetic passages and narrative prose, which brings meta-meanings into play. The translators' commentary offers insight into the author's family and world, as well as the fascinating textual legacy of her work.
Publisher: New York : Columbia University Press, [2014]
ISBN: 9780231167185
Branch Call Number: PL789.S8 Z4713 2014
Characteristics: xvi, 239 pages ; 24 cm


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reginamia Sep 28, 2015

this translation is the result of a collaboration that took fifteen years to complete. Two scholars of Japanese literature, one a native English speaker, the other a native Japanese speaker did far more than merely translate words.
They transported across time the subtleties of Heian Court as expressed by a gifted woman. They remained true to artistry that was expected 1000 years ago; as in Japanese art, spaces, or silences, were an integral part of creative writing. One might express one feeling but then shift tone or change topic, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. The translators spent decades getting to know the mind and person behind the Sarashina Diaries, her voice, her way with words, so that even in the poetic passages they remain true to her spirit.


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