consequence was that womens writing had an internal psychological dimen sion

Consequence was that womens writing had an internal

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consequence was that w·omen's writing had an internal, psychological dimen- sion that was rarely found even in men's kana writing, which, in any case, remained secondary to their work in Chinese. The second reason for the development of women's writing was the political, social, and cultural importance of the ladies-in-waiting at the imperial court. The leading Fujiwara families poured their resources into the residences, cul- tural activities, and entourages of their daughters, who competed for the atten- tion of the e1nperor. Indeed, the ladies-in-waiting to these Fujiwara daughters wrote much of the vernacular literature of the mid-Heian period. They were the daughters of provincial governors, the mid-level aristocrats, who were fre- quently in upstable political and economic positions. Having failed to rise in the court hierarchy, many of these provincial governors went to the provinces to make a living and so had an outsider's perspective on court life. One con- sequence \Vas that the literature written by women at court paid homage to the powerful Fujiwara patrons (as in The Pillow Book and Murasaki Shikibu's Diary) while also expressing deep disillusionment with court life (as in the Sarashina Diary) and with the marital customs that supported this sociopolitical system (as in the Kagero Diary). Part of the complexity of The Tale of Genji, in fact, comes from this conflicting view of court culture and power. The thirty-one-syllable classical poem ( waka) emerged as the most important vernacular (kana) genre. Occasions and topics for these poe1ns ranged from the seasons to love to miscellaneous topics such as celebration, mourning, separa- tion, and travel, which form separate chapters in the Kokinshii. Poems were composed "for public functions, at poetry contests ( uta-awase) and poetry parties, and for illustrated screens (byobu uta), which were commissioned by the royalty and the po\.verful Fujiwara families. Waka functioned privately as a social me- dium for greetings, courtship, and farewell, as well as a means of self-reflection. Poets also edited private collections, of either their own poetry or that of a poet like Arhvara no Narihira or Ono no Komachi. These private poetry collections could take the form of a travel diary, as in the Tosa Diary, one of the first diaries written in kana. Private poetry collections could also lead to confessional au- tobiographies like the Kagero Diary, which probably began as a private collec- tion of poems by Mother of Michitsuna. Private collections of poetry also gave rise to the poem tale, which contained anecdotes about poems that co1n- piled to create a biographical narrative like The Tales ofise, itself based on the poems and legends surrounding Ariwara no Narihira. In Murasaki Shikibu's day, as in previous centuries, men wrote prose in Chinese, the official language of religion and government. In the tenth century, therefore, vernacular prose, particularly literary diaries, belonged to women to the extent that, in the Tosa Diary, the leading male poet of the day, Ki no

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