(The Pillow Book) The Eleventh Book & Twelfth Book


The poems which appear written on the bodies are sent by the protagonist/novelist to the villain/publisher in the movie The Pillow Book. The poems/chapters/books are a complex communication: part bribe, part threat and all tease. I recommend you watch the movie if you haven’t already seen it. It’s visceral and the audience is both assumed to not speak Japanese and not given the time to read/translate the poems if it could. So the translations I’ve hunted down for you are most likely from the script or behind the scenes ephemera from the movie.

They are influenced by the Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon who the main character is named after. I don’t believe the poems in the 13 books are direct (even loose) translations of that  ancient lady, however universal the themes. They are more likely the writing of filmmaker Peter Greenaway himself. If anyone has additional information about their authorship, I’d love to hear about it.

If you don’t mind spoilers, the entire plot is described at wikipedia including the significance of each “book”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pillow_Book_(film)

The Eleventh and Twelfth books of the 13 books are never shown to the audience. Just the titles. The Eleventh Book: the book of the betrayed is written on the body of a character hit by a truck just outside the publisher’s shop. It goes therefore unread.

The next messenger simply drives by the office, giving little time to copy down Book 12: The Book of False Starts.

Maybe that is the reason there is no “translation” available for these works. They appear to exist in name only. And their absence serves to underscore the publisher’s maddening hunger for (and fear of) the “next book”. The Final Book… Book 13: The Book of the Dead which is written on the body of a sumo wrestler/assassin.

viv 21M 1


About glmorrison

poet, writer, teacher
This entry was posted in erotica, literature, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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