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Rewriting Medieval Japanese WomenPolitics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu$
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Christina Laffin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835651

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835651.001.0001

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Lover and Nun

Lover and Nun

Embodying the Heroine in Fitful Slumbers

(p.60) Chapter 3 Lover and Nun
Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women

Christina Laffin

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter takes up one of Abutsu's best-known works, her diary Fitful Slumbers. The diary demonstrates her vast knowledge of The Tale of Genji, a talent that enables her to position herself as pining heroine in the mode of the Genji's Ukifune. Her portrayal suggests ways in which medieval women were casting themselves as heroines in their autobiographical writings by borrowing from classical tales. The figure of Abutsu in Fitful Slumbers is wracked by indecision over whether to become a nun or return to court life, an ongoing theme that reveals how reclusion, tonsure, and ascetic practice were seen as paths for women of the Kamakura era and how these choices functioned within autobiographical narrative.

Keywords:   Nun Abutsu, medieval Japan, medieval women, diary, autobiographical writings, The Tale of Genji

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