Sei Shonagon s?? sh?ng?n [key], c.966?-?, Japanese poet and essayist of the mid-Heian period. She is best known for her Makura no sshi [pillow book], a collection of anecdotes, reflections, aesthetic assessments, and anecdotes of court life, written from her experiences serving at the court of the empress Teishi. The more than three hundred entries provide invaluable insight into contemporary court ceremony, intrigues, and politics. In addition to its historic interest, the Makura no sshi is a literary masterpiece, displaying a sharp wit, deft expression, and spontaneity. After the death of her patroness, Sei Shonagon left the court and married a provincial governor, becoming a Buddhist nun upon his death.
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