Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Essay: "Hateful Things." Sei Shonagon.

One-minute review: Court lady in tenth-century Japan who kept a journal recording her likes, dislikes and events around her. She likes to make lists.

The contemporary reader will find many of her “hateful things” familiar: men in their cups who shout; to envy others and complain about one’s own lot; the habits of elderly people; a crying baby interrupts her story; snoring men; mosquitoes; annoying noises; people who interrupt her story with a minor detail; a lover who talks about a former lover; dogs who won’t stop barking; people who try to use elegant language and look ridiculous.

She leaves us with one useful thought: “One’s attachment to a man depends largely on the elegance of his leave-taking.”

The Art of the Personal Essay. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995.

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