Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If You Use a Screen Reader

This content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.

Watching Commoners, Performing Class: Images of the Common People in "The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon"

Jeffrey Angles
Japan Review
No. 13 (2001), pp. 33-65
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25791060
Page Count: 33
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Watching Commoners, Performing Class: Images of the Common People in "The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon"
Preview not available

Abstract

A common refrain in criticism of the eleventh-century work The Pillow Book is that Sei Shōnagon had nothing but disparaging words to say about the lower classes. This study re-examines this idea through an in-depth review of the passages in The Pillow Book that mention commoners, and it finds that the situation is somewhat more complex. This paper begins by looking at the language that identifies people of the lower classes, specifically the noun gesu, the adjective waroki, and the prefix ese-. Next the paper examines the scenes in which commoners make appearances. While some passages contain negative portrayals, others express curiosity and interest in the world of the commoners, compelling us to revise the notion that Sei Shōnagon merely disdained the working classes. Embedded within each of these passages, however, are a number of mechanisms that reinforce differences between the social class of the narrator and those of the objects of scrutiny. This paper examines why the narrator uses this combination of both positive and negative images and concludes that they serve as elaborate performances that ultimately reinforce the illusion of the narrator's superior social and aesthetic acuity. 『枕草子』の研究に於いては、清少納言が庶民に対して、大変冷笑的な意識を持っていたとよく書かれている。本稿は『枕草子』に於ける庶民の描写を分析することにより、『枕草子』の階級意識がより複雑であることを強調する。本稿では先ず、平民を指す語彙、特に名詞の「げす」、形容詞の「わろき」と接頭語の「えせ」の使い方を検討し、次にその言葉が利用された描写自体を分析する。確かに、いわゆる「侮蔑的」な描写がないわけではないが、庶民ヘの興味をしめす点もあるところから、清少納言が平民に対して、冷笑的な態度しか示さなかったとする定説を訂正すべきと考える。そのような描写も、語り手と庶民との間に、距離を置いておく慟きがある。侮蔑的な描写と侮蔑的ではない描写を取り入れる事自体が凝ったパフォーマンスであり、そのパフォーマンスの目的が語り手の上級の立場と美学的な鋭敏さを物語るものと論じる。

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
33
    33
  • Thumbnail: Page 
34
    34
  • Thumbnail: Page 
35
    35
  • Thumbnail: Page 
36
    36
  • Thumbnail: Page 
37
    37
  • Thumbnail: Page 
38
    38
  • Thumbnail: Page 
39
    39
  • Thumbnail: Page 
40
    40
  • Thumbnail: Page 
41
    41
  • Thumbnail: Page 
42
    42
  • Thumbnail: Page 
43
    43
  • Thumbnail: Page 
44
    44
  • Thumbnail: Page 
45
    45
  • Thumbnail: Page 
46
    46
  • Thumbnail: Page 
47
    47
  • Thumbnail: Page 
48
    48
  • Thumbnail: Page 
49
    49
  • Thumbnail: Page 
50
    50
  • Thumbnail: Page 
51
    51
  • Thumbnail: Page 
52
    52
  • Thumbnail: Page 
53
    53
  • Thumbnail: Page 
54
    54
  • Thumbnail: Page 
55
    55
  • Thumbnail: Page 
56
    56
  • Thumbnail: Page 
57
    57
  • Thumbnail: Page 
58
    58
  • Thumbnail: Page 
59
    59
  • Thumbnail: Page 
60
    60
  • Thumbnail: Page 
61
    61
  • Thumbnail: Page 
62
    62
  • Thumbnail: Page 
63
    63
  • Thumbnail: Page 
64
    64
  • Thumbnail: Page 
65
    65