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The Making of Romantic LoveLonging and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, 900-1200 CE$
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William M. Reddy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226706269

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706283.001.0001

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Elegance and Compassion in Heian Japan

Elegance and Compassion in Heian Japan

(p.290) Five Elegance and Compassion in Heian Japan
The Making of Romantic Love

William M. Reddy

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the understanding of sexual partnerships and the practice of love in Heian Japan (794–1185). For aristocrats of the Heian period, sexual partnerships, insofar as these were this-worldly endeavors, participated in the inevitable frustration of all this-worldly desires. However, there was also a tendency to see sexual partnerships, like other social roles, as a matter of interest to the gods. Gods and spirits might intervene to advance a partnership they favored. The discussions include the Heian spiritual world; kinship and marriage among the governing elite; Heian literature; Heian subjectivity; the celestial splendors of the Heian elite; spiritually meaningful love affairs; and the sublime loves of Genji.

Keywords:   sexual partnerships, love, spiritual world, kinship, marriage, Heian literature, elite, love affairs, Genji

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