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Ivan Morris’s definitive and widely acclaimed portrait of the ceremonious and melancholy world of ancient Japan.
Using The Tale of Genji and other major literary works from Japan’s Heian period as a frame of reference, The World of the Shining Prince recreates an era when women set the cultural tone. Focusing on the world of the emperor’s court—a world deeply admired by Virginia Woolf, among others—renowned scholar of Japanese history and literature Ivan Morris explores the politics, society, religious life, and superstitions of the period.
Offering readers detailed portrayals of the daily lives of courtiers, the cult of beauty they espoused, and the intricate relations between the men and women of the age, The World of the Shining Prince has been a cornerstone text on ancient Japan for half a century.
“A thoughtful scholar’s reconstruction. . . . A book which should delight anyone interested in Japan.” —The New York Times Book Review
“The people of the Heian period in Japan . . . evolved a civilization . . . pervaded by a sense of the transitoriness of things, combined with an awareness of beauty so sharp that it was poignant. . . . Ivan Morris’s book is as elegant as its theme.” —The Observer