Murasaki Shikibu (author of The Tale of Genji) on Sei Shōnagon

Shikibu’s diary contains this frank appraisal of Sei Shōnagon:

Sei Shōnagon was…dreadfully conceited. She thought herself so clever and littered her writings with Chinese characters; but if you examined them closely, they left a great deal to be desired. Those who think of themselves as being superior to everyone else in this way will inevitably suffer and come to a bad end, and people who have become so precious that they go out of their way to be sensitive in the most unpromising situations, trying to capture every moment of interest, however slight, are bound to look ridiculous and superficial. How can the future turn out well for them? (Diary of Murasaki Shikibu, p. 54).

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