June 14th, 2019


My tweets

  • Thu, 12:56: The promises Boris Johnson has broken as mayor https://t.co/NJAS7nFOfT A reminder.
  • Thu, 16:05: RT @DaveKeating: Very interesting map of who dubs and who subtitles in Europe. You can see the direct correlation between this and English…
  • Thu, 17:11: RT @MatthewdAncona: Here’s what’s happening, then. Pretty much everyone has decided that Boris Johnson is going to win, and the numbers so…
  • Thu, 17:47: RT @Unwise_Trousers: When you just want to clutch your head in a field in peace, and people keep slapping you on book covers: https://t.co/
  • Thu, 18:32: Will Supervillains Be On The Final?, by Naomi Novik, art by Yishan Li https://t.co/lHrvCRn6kf
  • Thu, 19:04: RT @garius: LIDINGTON: Phil! Wasn't expecting to see you at the Leadership hustings! HAMMOND: Why not? I love this stuff. LIDINGTON: Really…
  • Thu, 20:48: RT @wesstreeting: I’ve had enough of crap like this. My constituent wasn’t a snowflake when a guy tried to rip her hijab off on Oxford Stre…
  • Fri, 08:48: RT @davidallengreen: The political support for Johnson and the other No Deal candidates is an index of how little has been learned by the g…
  • Fri, 09:25: RT @kingjobbie: @jonworth @davidallengreen @nwbrux I am getting genuinely scared about how often No Deal Brexit is now mentioned in the pre…
  • Fri, 10:45: RT @APHClarkson: Brexiter MPs obsessed with escaping supposed German domination also claiming that Angela Merkel will sweep in and fix Brex…
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Five Women Who Loved Love (好色五人女) by Ihara Saikaku (井原 西鶴)

Second paragraph of third story ("What the Seasons Brought the Almanac Maker"):
In Kyoto lived a lady known as the Almanac-Maker’s Beautiful Spouse, who stirred up a mountain of passion in the capital and figured again and again in notorious romances. Her moon-shaped eyebrows rivaled in beauty the crescent borne aloft during the Gion Festival parade; her figure suggested the cherry buds, not yet blossoms, of Kiyomizu, and her lovely lips looked like the topmost leaves of the maples at Takao in their full autumnal glory. She lived in Muro-machi-dori, the style center for women of discriminating taste in clothes, the most fashionable district in all Kyoto.
Note: tracking down the text, and then being sure I had the right sentences to match the English paragraphing, was rather a challenge. In the end I found the full Japanese text here, and five different translation engines here (all of which gave completely different results).
I was moved to get this after reading John Wills' 1688, though in fact it was published a couple of years earlier, in 1685. It's a set of five love stories set in contemporary 1680s Japan - in fact, all based more or less on real life, where those who loved outside their social class would often face the death penalty (in four of the five stories, one or both of the protagonists is executed). I found it a really easy quick read, markedly more realistic than, say, Pilgrim's Progress (which was published the previous year). The last of the five stories is particularly interesting - Gengobei, a monk, is heartbroken by the deaths of two young boyfriends in quick succession; Oman, a young girl, falls in love with him and disguises herself as a boy to get into his bed; Gengobei discovers he likes her too, and they live happily ever after (after certain dramatic tribulations). It's the only story of the five with a happy ending. Sex is a universal, and probably tales of doomed love have fascinated humans since we were first able to gossip about how Ugg and Obba wanted to get together despite being from different caves, but here we have a fascinating snapshot of a changing Japan, a growing bourgeoisie not entirely happy at the policing of sexuality by the authorities. The translation by Wm. Theodore de Bary is maybe a bit old-fashioned and a twenty-first century treatment would be fun to read. You can get it here.

This was the top unread book by a non-white author on my shelves. Next up is For the Love of a Mother: The Black Children of Ulster
by Annie Yellowe Palma.