The Confessions of Lady Nijō

The Confessions of Lady Nijō

Lady Nijō Karen Brazell / Jun 03, 2020

The Confessions of Lady Nij In about a remarkable woman in Japan sat down to complete the story of her life The result was an autobiographical narrative a tale of thirty six years in the life of Lady Nijo starti

  • Title: The Confessions of Lady Nijō
  • Author: Lady Nijō Karen Brazell
  • ISBN: 9780804709309
  • Page: 383
  • Format: Paperback
  • In about 1307 a remarkable woman in Japan sat down to complete the story of her life The result was an autobiographical narrative, a tale of thirty six years 1271 1306 in the life of Lady Nijo, starting when she became the concubine of a retired emperor in Kyoto at the age of fourteen and ending, several love affairs later, with an account of her new life as a wanderingIn about 1307 a remarkable woman in Japan sat down to complete the story of her life The result was an autobiographical narrative, a tale of thirty six years 1271 1306 in the life of Lady Nijo, starting when she became the concubine of a retired emperor in Kyoto at the age of fourteen and ending, several love affairs later, with an account of her new life as a wandering Buddhist nun.Through the vagaries of history, however, the glory of Lady Nijo s story has taken six and half centuries to arrive The Confessions of Lady Nijo or Towazugatari in Japanese, was not widely circulated after it was written, perhaps because of the dynastic quarrel that soon split the imperial family, or perhaps because of Lady Nijo s intimate portrait of a very human emperor Whatever the cause, the book was neglected, then forgotten completely, and only a single manuscript survived This was finally discovered in 1940, but would not be published until after World War II in 1950 This translation and its annotations draw on multiple Japanese editions, but borrow most heavily from the interpretations offered by Tsugita Kasumi.

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    About "Lady Nijō Karen Brazell"

      • Lady Nijō Karen Brazell

        Lady Nij Go Fukakusain no Nij 1258 after 1307 was a Japanese historical figure She was a concubine of Emperor Go Fukakusa from 1271 to 1283, and later became a Buddhist nun After years of travelling, around 1304 7 she wrote an autobiographical novel, Towazugatari literally An Unasked For Tale , commonly translated into English as The Confessions of Lady Nij , the work for which she is known today, and which is also the only substantial source of information on her life.Lady Nij was a member of the powerful Fujiwara Nij Family Her father and paternal grandfather held important positions at the imperial court, and many of her relatives and ancestors had high reputations for their literary abilities Her real name does not survive The name Nij was given to her at the court it was common practice at the time to designate court ladies by street names, and Nij Second Avenue designates a high rank According to the Towazugatari, Emperor Go Fukakusa was in love with Nij s mother, Sukedai However, she died shortly after Nij was born, and Go Fukakusa turned his affections to Nij She was taken to the court at the age of four, and was subsequently raised there The Towazugatari begins in 1271, when Nij , aged 14, is given by her father to Go Fukakusa as a concubine.The novel proceeds to describe Nij s life at the court, which was plagued by numerous troubles Her father died when she was 15, and her relationship with the emperor was strained from the beginning, because she took several other lovers over the years, including one whom she knew before becoming a concubine Matters were complicated further by Nij s pregnancies the only child she bore to Go Fukakusa died in infancy, and the other three children she had were not by the emperor Go Fukakusa s consort, Higashi nij , was greatly displeased with Nij s behaviour and Go Fukakusa s apparent affinity for the concubine Ultimately, it was due to Higashi nij s request that Nij was expelled from the court in 1283.Nij s fate is revealed in books 4 and 5 of Towazugatari Like many women in Medieval Japan whose lives met with unfortunate circumstances, Nij became a Buddhist nun She traveled to sa red and historical places, returning to the capital regularly Book 4 begins in 1289, skipping several years thus leading scholars to believe that some material may be missing book 5 skips some years and describes Nij s grief at Go Fukakusa s death in 1304 Towazugatari ends in 1306, and nothing is known about what happened to Nij afterwards or when she died.Nij s autobiography did not enjoy wide circulation A single 17th century copy was discovered in the 20th century, with several gaps in book 5, noted by the scribe The scholar who found Towazugatari was Yamagishi Tohukei The book was published in 1950, with a complete annotated edition following in 1966 There were two English translations The Confessions of Lady Nij by Karen Brazell 1973 , and Lady Nij s own story Towazugatari the candid diary of a thirteenth century Japanese imperial concubine by Wilfrid Whitehouse and Eizo Yanagisawa 1974.


    1. The Tale "I wondered why I should have to be so torn between two men when so many women in the world could devote themselves solely to one man." It could be that Nijo feels this way because she has just heard one of her lovers, the ex-Emperor say, "I have made enquiries far and wide and I am deeply convinced that sexual relations are not sinful in themselves." Her worry, his philosophy, were spoken on the heels of a lecture given on Shingon Buddhism at the court in Kyoto. A drinking party is the [...]

    2. Японська придворна література 10-13 століття - це космос. Вся ця проза, писана іронічними інтелектуалками для іронічних інтелектуалок, змагання з поетичних експромтів, дуже легке ставлення до сексуальності, писання віршів замість walk of shame, символічна наснаженість простору ( [...]

    3. So I pretty much read my early Japanese lit in ascending order of awesomeness, because from Lady Murasaki’s diary on up to this little gem, they’ve been steadily improving!Kamakura-era Lady Nijo had a lot more fun than her Heian-period counterparts of Lady Murasaki, Lady Sarashina, and Lady Mayfly, it seems. In her world, there’s a lot of sake and a lot of partying and a lot more freedom as a woman. Sex partners in Lady Nijo’s world are sort of like Pokemon cards, or the bikini section a [...]

    4. The world of Lady Nijo (whose real name has not survived), a court lady of late thirteenth century Japan, is not ours. At a very young age, she was offered by her father to one of the retired Emperors (there were three at the time), who had been in love with her mother and admired her from a very young age. The Tale of Genji, written a few centuries before is constantly quoted or memorialized and in Nijo's relationship with Cloistered Emperor GoFukakusa is reminiscent of Genji's obsession with M [...]

    5. I'm glad to have found another pillow book, much like Sei Shonagon's earlier book entitled well. The Pillow Book. Japanese literature, even if I do have to read English translations, is beautiful. The language choices are unusual to Western culture and simply lovely to read about. Attention to details such as clothing color and changes in the weather provide a very clear path of imagery of a complex society. Really, it's very incredible. Therefore, I'm really glad to have found The Confessions o [...]

    6. It's always fascinating to see how another culture handles events that seem clear to me. "Confessions" opens with Lady Nijo's rape by Japan's emperor; in response to her trauma, everyone yells at *her* for her "ingratitude." Yuck. -_-Yet Nijo grows into an unusually free-spirited woman; for the lives of most noblewomen, see "The Gossamer Years" (written a few centuries before, but little had changed at court). It involved sitting in one room and trying not to show how jealous you were as your hu [...]

    7. I'm sort of stunned by how readable and recognizable as a memoir/travelogue this is, seeing as it's from the 14th century. The main character, Lady Nijo led a fascinating life. Born into life as high-ranking court lady, she later becomes a wandering Buddhist nun and travels all over Japan.My one regret is that I really should have read Tale of Genji before reading this book, as there were continual allusions throughout that I found difficult to understand the resonance of, even with footnotes. O [...]

    8. One of the best books I have read on human emotion and condition. I am so deeply moved by the Japanese sensuality of it and I have even really cried over the fate of its heroes though I thought it was impossible for me to get so emotional over a love story again. A must read for who follows female voices in literature too!

    9. Why do people waste time looking at reality shows and the convoluted affairs in them when they can read this book. I must say I got this at the library simply on the basis of the title. Althought it takes place in early 14th century Japan, it's basically a coming of age story. This woman could be a woman of today. Lady Nijo reminds me of a faded movie star who comes to realize there are no parts for her anymore. This book is romantic and reality at the same time.If she were alive today, she woul [...]

    10. An interesting book that truly gives the reader an insight into the life of a concubine in 13th century Japan. Some may find the writing a little basic, but I found it heavily detailed and easy to read. Again this book is just an engaging historical text, alive and intriguing.

    11. this is a good book about a young motherless girl who is taken into the palace as a concubine to the emperor.

    12. I went to a conference panel discussing the benefits and challenges to globalizing university medieval studies program and walked away with a determination to read more literature from the 6th-15th centuries that wasn’t written by Europeans. I picked up Nijo on recommendation from a professor that taught it a few semesters back, and this book has been one of the most delightful “medieval” texts I’ve ever read.Things I Liked1. Characters: Lady Nijo is absolutely wonderful, both as a chara [...]

    13. This book just rocks. The poetry is questionable unless you really appreciate Haiku. I don't know how many tears on a sleeve one person can have an actually mean it.If anything, read it for the impressive descriptions of kimono layering. Who knew there was so much underneath?But all in all, what makes it so great is that it's a diary - here's the synop:One of the oldest books in print by a woman, Confessions of Lady Nijo contains the thoughts, reflections, and poetry of an opinionated Japanese [...]

    14. Medieval Japanese memoirs and pillow books aren't for everyone but I really enjoy them. This one was particularly interesting because it was written towards the end of the Kamakura Period, not during the Heian Period as I originally thought when I snatched it up on impulse. The differences in court life were interesting - more sake parties, less imamekashi snootiness - although I probably would have missed most of them if I hadn't read Brazell's excellent introduction (so don't skip it). Nijou a [...]

    15. I had to read this for my history class, and it was just not something I would have read otherwise. But for those interested in life in medieval Japan, this would be an interesting book. Very detailed descriptions of clothing, for those who like that kind of thing. It was a well written book, and it told a very human story of Nijo's long journey from imperial concubine to pilgrimming nun. There were scenes which I really liked, and I enjoyed the many instances of poetry. I've learned more of the [...]

    16. eh.I was really disappointed by this book. I thought it would have more flair I guess but "The Confessions of Lady Nijo" didn't. I ended up extremely bored for the last 100 pages.on the positive side, this book is wonderful for a historical study. there are many descriptions of clothes, ceremonies, decorations but not of nature, surprisingly. to accompany these descriptions are footnotes by the translator and other scholars to help readers understand Lady Njio's experience. "The Tale of Genji" i [...]

    17. Japanese aristocratic life in the 13th century. Nijo's candid account tells of her travails in court society as a lover of the cloistered emperor GoFukakusa. She lost her father early, and therefore her political backing in court circles, but nevertheless hung on to the most tenuous of threads in her relationship with GoFukakusa, until finally in her 20s when she was forced out by an official consort and thereafter took the Buddhist tonsure. There is a modern ring to her candid, confessional voi [...]

    18. I picked this book up on impulse in a used bookstore in Port Townsend. I read the first few pages and was hooked. It's the autobiography of a Japanese courtesan in the late 13th century. This book wouldn't be for everyone as there are a lot of detailed descriptions of clothes and numerous haikus about tear-drenched sleeves, but I really enjoyed it! The introduction and the footnotes are a must for understanding what's going on unless you're already an expert on 13th century Japan. And hey! The h [...]

    19. Credited with being the first modern romance the last words of the manuscript, are perhaps the most melancholic and profound in the history of autobiography; all the more so as the unfinished portion was cut by a Samurai sword and we are unlikely ever to rediscover what was finally said. It's a slow starter but by the final third one is compelled to read on.

    20. This diary like Japanese work follows Lady Nijo and her escapades throughout Japan. It reads much like a travel diary, and I found it more interesting than The Tale of Genji which it draws from heavily.

    21. Lady Nijo is an interesting woman, you can see that in the first few pages. Sadly I feel the book got dry towards the end of the book. Still I'm glad that I picked this book up and I would suggest it to anyone that likes literature about Japan.

    22. A translation of the autobiography of a 13th-century Japanese court lady. It's very entertaining and readable - more so than I expected. The Japanese weren't quite as uptight as Westerners at that time period!!!

    23. Beautifully written. Lady Nijo comes from a family of poets and there are many of her beautiful short poems are included. I really enjoyed this book for it was written in the 13th century and it just goes to show that the strength and force of emotion has not changed.

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