Synopses & Reviews
, translated here as The Gossamer Years
, belongs to the same period as the celebrated Tale of Genji
by Murasaki Shikuibu.
This remarkably frank autobiographical diary and personal confession attempts to describe a difficult relationship as it reveals two tempestuous decades of the author's unhappy marriage and her growing indignation at rival wives and mistresses.
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. A timeless and intimate glimpse into the culture of ancient Japan, this translation by Edward Seidensticker paints a revealing picture of married life in the Heian period.
"Just like The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, this is a diary from Heian Era of Japan, although unlike Sei Shonagon and Murasaki, this diary takes place prior to when they got to shine, and I can't help but get the feeling that it influenced Murasaki Shikibu a lot. …the supplemental information added by the translator is very helpful. PS, love the cover." —Svetlana's Reads and Views
The 'Kagero Nikki, ' the classic of Japanese literature here translated as 'The Gossamer Years, ' belongs to the same era that produced the celebrated 'Tale of Genji' and 'The Pillow Book.'
Written in the tenth century, The Kagero Nikki, translated as The Gossamer Years, belongs to the same period as The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. Like The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, The Gossamer Years is a journal kept by a noblewoman.
This frank autobiographical diary reveals two tempestuous decades of the author's unhappy marriage and her growing indignation at rival wives and mistresses. Too impetuous to be satisfied as a subsidiary wife, she protests the marriage system of her time in one of Japanese literature's earliest attempts to portray difficult elements of the predominant social hierarchy.
Very little is known of the author outside of what is related in her diary. Her name is unknown -- but she was related to the Lady Murasaki, author of The Tale of Genji, and to Sei Shonagon, author of The Pillow Book.
This diary of a mid-Heian noblewoman, chronicling her confinement in the lonely grandeur of court life, is one of the earliest attempt in Japanese literature at historical narrative.
About the Author
Edward G. Seidensticker, Professor Emeritus of Japanese at Columbia University, is a noted translator and the author of several books in English and Japanese. He had received from the Japanese government one of its highest honors, the third-class Order of the Rising Sun, for his part in introducing Japanese novels abroad. His works include The Makioka Sisters, Snow Country, The Tale of Genji and Thousand Cranes.