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Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled HairBody, Woman, and Desire in Medieval Japanese Narratives$
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Rajyashree Pandey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824853549

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824853549.001.0001

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Woman, Love, Poetry, and Enlightenment

Woman, Love, Poetry, and Enlightenment

Izumi Shikibu as Topos

Chapter:
(p.82) Chapter Four Woman, Love, Poetry, and Enlightenment
Source:
Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled Hair
Author(s):

Rajyashree Pandey

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824853549.003.0005

Rather than attempting to seek out the ‘real’ Izumi Shikibu, the chapter focuses on the creative re-imaginings that were effected on the textual body of this famous literary figure in the narratives about her that proliferated in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. The chapter demonstrates how she is configured as a poet, lover, and yûjo (courtesan), and argues that these different avatars cannot be read as distortions of her real life, or as attempts by Buddhism to degrade her as a woman. Close readings of popular setsuwa tales in collections such as Shasekishû suggest that the many imaginative fictions created around Izumi, and the failings and proscriptions enunciated under her name, served a larger end, namely to illuminate a set of questions regarding the nature of poetry, sexual attachment, and enlightenment, which were deemed to be of the utmost importance by medieval poets, priests, laymen and nuns - men and women alike.

Keywords:   setsuwa, Shasekishû, yûjo, Mujû Ichien, miko, Lotus Sutra, Dômyô, incest, Kokinshû, chigo

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