The Kara monogatari, compiled by Fujiwara no Shigenori (1135–1187), is a collection of twenty-seven secular anecdotes from Chinese literary and historical sources, written in the vernacular of the time, and traditionally classified in the setsuwa genre. However, considering its influence on the production of vernacular literary and practical knowledge manuals in the following Kamakura period (1185–1333), it is possible to rethink the work as a primer. The text exhibits several features that indicate a female audience. For example, many of the stories promote Confucian virtues, mainly those regarding the correct behavior of women, such as fidelity, wisdom, and forbearance. Furthermore, the rhetorical style is typical of post-Genji monogatari novels, which circulated especially among women. And lastly, the Buddhist flavor in some of the anecdotes connects them with the kana literary vogue and in turn with the Buddhist worldview that dominated the late Heian period (794–1185). Taken together, these features suggest the collection might well have been composed for mid-ranking court women. While modern literary scholars have conventionally assumed that in the twelfth century women no longer read or studied Chinese, Kara monogatari provides important evidence to the contrary.

Sage Ladies, Devoted Brides: The Kara Monogatari as a Manual for Women's Correct Behaviour?

Maria Chiara Migliore
2020

Abstract

The Kara monogatari, compiled by Fujiwara no Shigenori (1135–1187), is a collection of twenty-seven secular anecdotes from Chinese literary and historical sources, written in the vernacular of the time, and traditionally classified in the setsuwa genre. However, considering its influence on the production of vernacular literary and practical knowledge manuals in the following Kamakura period (1185–1333), it is possible to rethink the work as a primer. The text exhibits several features that indicate a female audience. For example, many of the stories promote Confucian virtues, mainly those regarding the correct behavior of women, such as fidelity, wisdom, and forbearance. Furthermore, the rhetorical style is typical of post-Genji monogatari novels, which circulated especially among women. And lastly, the Buddhist flavor in some of the anecdotes connects them with the kana literary vogue and in turn with the Buddhist worldview that dominated the late Heian period (794–1185). Taken together, these features suggest the collection might well have been composed for mid-ranking court women. While modern literary scholars have conventionally assumed that in the twelfth century women no longer read or studied Chinese, Kara monogatari provides important evidence to the contrary.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11587/438511
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