ivan morris

The Heian Period

“An ever-pullulating [sic] brood of greedy, needy, frivolous dilettanti– as often as not foully licentious, utterly effeminate, incapable of any worthy achievement, but withal the polished exponents of high breeding and correct ‘form’…Now and then a better man did emerge; but one just man impotent to avert the doom of an intellectual Sodom…A pretty showing, indeed, these pampered minions and bepowdered poetasters might be expected to make.”

[Morris, pg. 21.]

[Morris, Ivan. The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan. From “A History of Japan,” by James Murdoch, pg. 230. London: Penguin Books, 1964.]


The Brother Karamazov, Guild Theatre, 1927.

Alfred Lunt - Dmitri Feodorovich
George Gaul - Ivan Feodorovich
Morris Carnovsky - Aliosha Feodorovich
Edward G. Robinson - Smerdiakov
Dudley Digges - Feodor Pavlovich Karamazov
Philip Leigh - Father Zossima
Lynn Fontanne - Agrafena
Clare Eames - Katerina

My stuttering, I need hardly say, placed an obstacle between me and the outside world. It is the first sound that I have trouble in uttering. This first sound is like a key to the door that separates my inner world from the world outside, and I have never known that key to turn smoothly in its lock. Most people, thanks to their easy command of words, can keep this door between the inner world and the outer world wide open, so that the air passes freely between the two; but for me this has been quite impossible. Thick rust has gathered on the key.
—  Yukio Mishima, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (trans. Ivan Morris)
A good lover will behave as elegantly at dawn as at any other time. He drags himself out of bed with a look of dismay on his face. The lady urges him on: “Come, my friend, it’s getting light. You don’t want anyone to find you here. He gives a deep sigh, as if to say that the night has not been nearly long enough and that it is agony to leave. Once up, he does not instantly pull on his trousers. Instead he comes close to the lady and whispers whatever was left unsaid during the night. Even when he is dressed, he still lingers, vaguely pretending to be fastening his sash. • Presently he raises the lattice, and the two lovers stand together by the side door while he tells her how he dreads the coming day, which will keep them apart; then he slips away. The lady watches him go, and this moment of parting will remain among her most charming memories. - • Indeed, one’s attachment to a man depends largely on the elegance of his leave-taking. When he Jumps out of bed, scurries about the room, tightly fastens his trouser sash, rolls up the sleeves of his court cloak, overrobe, or hunting costume, stuffs his belongings into the breast of his robe and then briskly secures the outer sash—one really begins to hate him.