Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Pillow Book: Introduction
The Pillow Book: Plot Summary
The Pillow Book: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Pillow Book: Themes
The Pillow Book: Quotes
The Pillow Book: Characters
The Pillow Book: Symbols
The Pillow Book: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Sei Shonagon
Historical Context of The Pillow Book
Other Books Related to The Pillow Book
- Full Title: The Pillow Book (Makura no soshi)
- When Written: c. 994–c. 1002
- Where Written: Kyoto, Japan
- Literary Period: Classical Japanese (Heian period)
- Genre: Diary
- Setting: The imperial court of Kyoto, Japan in the 990s C.E.
- Antagonist: N/A
- Point of View: First Person
Extra Credit for The Pillow Book
Cultivating Delight. The Japanese word okashi appears frequently throughout The Pillow Book, often translated as “amusing,” “delightful,” or “lovely.” Okashi is a kind of aesthetic response to an object or experience, and Sei Shōnagon’s classification of things as okashi in The Pillow Book would have resonated with the cultural sensibility of her audience, while enhancing the reputation of the court as a place where such a sensibility flourished.
Dear Diary. The Pillow Book helped give rise to a genre called zuihitsu (“rambling,” or “following the calligrapher’s brush”)—collections of personal essays and fragmentary observations and musings.