Sacred Rites in Moonlight: Ben No Naishi Nikki (Paperback)
Ben no Naishi (1228-1270), a descendant of a literary branch of the Fujiwara family, created an innovative poetic account focusing on her public personae as a naishi serving at the court of Go-Fukakusa (r. 1246-1259). Traditional scholarship regards Ben no Naishi Nikki as a naive record of court minutiae written without any literary purpose, but Ben no Naishi's text is constructed consciously by her devotion to sacred and secular duties as naishi (female courtiers), who as guardians of the royal regalia--the Mirror, the Sword, and the Jewels--played vital roles in rites that legitimized and perpetuated the rule of the royal family. This translation-based study situates the text within the nikki tradition, traces the cultivation of patronage relationships that led to Ben no Naishi's job at court, delineates the sacred and secular duties of naishi, explores the unique literary aspects of the work, and reassesses Ben no Naishi's work as an innovative poetic record that subordinates the stance and contents to commemorating the reign of the royal family. The translation enhances the list of works available in English from the Kamakura literary canon.
About the Author
S. Yumiko Hulvey is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of Florida. She has published articles on female writers of both classical and modern Japanese literature in journals such as Monumenta Nipponica, Manoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, and books such as Japanese Women Writers: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook and Japan in Traditional and Post Modern Perspectives. Her current research focuses on identifying intertextual allusions to the classics and tracing the development of fantastic and feminist themes in narratives by Enchi Fumiko (1905-1986).