The Cat in Kokon chomon-jû. Three Anecdotes Taken from the Work Compiled by Tachibana no Narisue and Translated from Japanese into French

Iris 40 (2020)
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La figure du chat fait son apparition dans la littérature japonaise au ixe siècle, mais son image évoluera de manière inattendue à l’époque médiévale. Des témoignages littéraires du xie et du xiie siècle, tels que les Notes de chevet de Sei Shônagon et Le Dit du Genji de Murasaki Shikibu, montraient clairement l’intérêt porté aux chats par les dames de cour. Pourtant, à partir du xiiie siècle, le félidé fera au contraire l’objet d’une forme de « diabolisation », et c’est cette dimension plus inquiétante du chat que nous aimerions évoquer ici, à travers trois exemples tirés du Kokon chomon-jû, vaste recueil de contes et légendes. Cette œuvre méconnue en Europe est attribuée à Tachibana no Narisue et achevée en 1254. The figure of the cat made its appearance in Japanese literature in the 9th century, but its image evolved unexpectedly in medieval times. Literary evidence from the 11th and 12th centuries, such as the Bedside Notes by Sei Shônagon and The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu clearly showed the interest of court women in cats. However, from the 13th century, the feline became the object of a form of “demonization”, and it is this more disturbing dimension of the cat that we would like to describe here, through three examples taken from Kokon chomon-Jû, a vast collection of tales and legends. This work, unknown in Europe, has been attributed to Tachibana no Narisue and was completed in 1254.



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