Role Of Poetry In Narrative Prose Of The Heian Period

1494 words - 6 pages

Japanese literature in the Heian period was most popular for its domination of women’s culture (Hooker, Richard). During this time, a new writing technique was implemented called hiragana. This was especially accepted as a woman’s way of writing since a woman knowing Chinese characters was considered unladylike. For many years Chinese characters was the only accepted way of writing, thus the birth of a new writing technique was like a revelation. This incorporation made a huge impact on Japanese literature, since long before it existed, most techniques were adopted from the Chinese. The most popular works during this time included various monogatari such as Ise monogatari and Taketori monogatari, and most popular, Genji monogatari. Monogatari is an extremely popular prose since it included a significant amount of poems and stories about the court ladies’ lives, as well as mentions of Buddhism. Aside from monogatari, a more personal, and still popular prose was nikki. Nikki means diary and although it was more common for women to write these, there were men that tried and wrote nikki’s too.
The Ise monogatari was the earliest Uta monogatari, literally meaning poem tale. Ise monogatari is attributed to Ariwara no Narihira, although it is not documented and can’t be proven. The poems in Ise monogatari tell stories of feelings more elegantly than regular text. The imagery the poems can show and the strong emotion that the reader can feel from reading them really makes them popular. Ariwara no Narihira is said to be the greatest lover in Japanese history due to his miyabi, or elegance, in his writing. When the writer uses poems in their work, it is a way of showing the world how good of a writer they are. The use of repetition and rhythm, along with consistency and parallelism is key in showing off your talent. This is why some writers prefer to use poems in their stories.
The earliest full fledge narrative is Taketori monogatari, also known as The Bamboo Cutter. The author is unknown, but said to be a woman since written in kana, since only men knew kanji and Chinese characters. It is a story of Kaguya Hime, a moon princess, who is also immortal, and who was sent to earth as punishment. Her founder finds her in bamboo, when she is only inches tall, and he takes her in as his own daughter and raises her, loves her as his own, and is devastated when she has to go back. The imagery in this tale is so strong. You can see and imagine all of the places where the suitors lie about or actually do go to. The imagination needed to create such an in-depth story is truly amazing.
The most popular and lasting piece is Genji monogatari written by Murasaki Shikibu. Genji monogatari is most well known for being one of the greatest novels in world literature. The story is not accepted by all women since it reveals the type of man Genji was. He was known to rape and kidnap women and a lot of women still get angry with this. Still...

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