The Tosa Diary

Front Cover
Tuttle Publishing, Oct 15, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 128 pages
Narrated in the first person by a female persona, it provides modern readers not only with a fascinating look at Japanese life and travel in the tenth century but also an insight into the author's humanity and stylistic excellence. Though the author's other writings were known for their ornateness, this diary is written with an artless simplicity and quiet humor which is as welcome as it is unexpected from a nobleman of the period. His sufferings from seasickness, his grief for the loss of a minor, his pride when his little daughter composes a verse in reply to that of a visitor whom he evidently dislike, his own verses that he cannot resist quoting, and his way of deprecating the verses of others, as well as many other details, supply a very human touch.

About the author (2005)

Tsurayuki is best known as a poet and as the author of The Tosa Diary (935). In both respects he was a pioneer. As a poet, he was the primary compiler of the Kokinshu (905), the premier anthology of court poetry. In its vernacular preface, as opposed to the one in Chinese written by another author, he made the first statement about the poetics of verse in Japanese. His diary was the first written in vernacular Japanese by a man in the persona of a woman, a literary landmark because the custom of the time was for men to keep diaries in Chinese. Tsurayuki was greatly esteemed as a poet and calligrapher in his own time and has been venerated ever since.

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