The Gossamer Years
In the book The Gossamer Years, Heian society of Japan is expressed through the voice and actions of the author of the book. The book is a compilation of memoirs written by a noblewoman who lived during this period; however, it is not an extremely accurate historical reference. Instead it is a personal encounter of an individual and her response to her life and lives surrounding her, which leaves the reader to deduce for themselves how events effected society in a non-bias type of way. From these memoirs, Heian Society can be dissected from the stand point of an outsider looking in, instead of a history book telling the reader what it was like. The writer doesn't explain the society and events that she faces; however, through her actions and words a fair assessment can be made on topics such as court life, religion, women's right, and marriage.
The author, Lady Gossamer, begins her entries in her journal around the time that she is being courted by her future husband, who happens to be a man of stature and wealth in their society. There are definite social classes in the Heian society and unspoken rules about class integration. When Lady Gossamer's husband, the Prince, began correspondence with her, she was "half-inclined not to answer, but (her) mother insisted that a letter from such a gentleman was not to be ignored, and finally (she) sent off a return (page 34)". The Prince was an official and a member of the elite social class in Heian, society, so it would have been regarded as disrespectful and ignorant for her not to respond to his advances because even though she was of good social standing, she was not of the same caliber as the Prince. Through their union, Lady Gossamer gained more social status than she had before and also reaped the benefits of this merger. She was outfitted with a small group of people to tend to the house the Prince moved her into as well as tending to her needs. She refers to them as her people...
Cited: The Gossamer Years. Translated by Edward Seidensticker. Tuttle Publishing, North Clarendon, VT, 2001.
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