Comparison of the two Authors: Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shounagon

Murasaki Shikibu who wrote ‘The tale of Genji’ and Sei Shounagon who wrote ‘The Pillow Book.

It is not easy or possible to compare the two books because they are both of two completely different genres. The Tale of Genji is a psychological work of fiction that captures the climate in the court during the Heian period, whereas in the Pillow Book, the author writes about her own real-life experiences in the form of narratives, poems and essays. Both the books have shown two completely different background of the Heian period. But the aspects of the Heian court depicted by the author, Sei Shounagon in her book ‘The Pillow Book’ showed the reality of the Heian era. In the Pillow Book, the author showed us the court and her experiences while working in the court through the perception of a gentlewoman, whereas the author of ‘The Tale of Genji’ majorly focused on nothing but nobility.

Their books may be world apart, but both these authors had a lot in common. They both served in the imperial court; they were both ladies-in-waiting. Both showed their love for nature and very highly intelligent and witty. They were very knowledgeable, and both had learnt the kanji writhing system but hid it well. But Murasaki Shikibu’s view of the world was completely different from how Sei Shounagon viewed the world.

From her novel ‘The Pillow Book’, the author, Sei Shounagon appears to be a very outgoing and witty person with a powerful personality and a good sense of humour. She can be mean, prideful but is an utterly compassionate person.

On the other hand, Murasaki Shikibu appears to be very sensitive person who thinks about things very deeply and in all seriousness. She added a few funny scenes as well in her novel but on the overall scale the tone of her book, The Tale of Genji, was dejected and dark.