Abstract

Abstract:

A quantitative approach to the Kagerō Diary (Kagerō nikki, 974) reveals a proud, competitive, creative, and compassionate woman whose ambition to gain status and prestige was ultimately thwarted by relative infertility because, in her polygamous society, children were the avenue to a woman's success. The author has often been disparaged as jealous, hysterical, neurotic, and masochistic, but these are exaggerations that seem to be the result of gendered stereotypes. She is only outspokenly resentful of her husband's relationships with women who threatened her dignity and status; she often laments her husband's negligence, but she also shares many warm moments with him and is more than a wife. She has strong bonds with her biological family members, is recognized as a talented poet, corresponds with a variety of her peers, and undertakes numerous pilgrimages. She retains her husband's interest for nearly twenty years, and then turns her attention to the needs of her adult children, a biological son and an adopted daughter. It is her son's achievements, not her husband's affection, that elicits her strongest expressions of joy. A data-driven analysis of the Kagerō Diary, combined with recognition of the importance of status and prestige among the aristocracy in Heian Japan, refutes sexist characterizations and allows us to see Michitsuna's mother as an impressive figure.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-5029
Print ISSN
1059-9770
Pages
pp. 33-54
Launched on MUSE
2020-07-09
Open Access
No
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