Welcome, this page is intended as an aide to those people seeking to study Peter Greenaway's magnificient The Pillow Book. There are a number of excellent critical, academic and more popular articles and websites available on The Pillow Book and on Greenaway's work in a broader sense. This page attempts to collect references and links to these texts together, using The Pillow Book as the focal point. This page also has some images from the film for your enjoyment.

The page is structured as follows:

I. The text of The Blessing from The Pillow Book.
II. Some images from the film.
III. Some recommended readings directly on The Pillow Book.
IV. Related readings more broadly on Peter Greenaway.
V. The most useful of the web resources on the film and Greenaway.

The Blessing

When God made the first clay model of a human being He painted in the eyes ... the lips ... and the sex.

And then He painted in each person's name lest the person should ever forget it.

If God approves of His creation, He breathed the painted clay model into life by signing His own name.

Some images from The Pillow Book.

(Click on the thumbnails to view a full size image).

A young Nagiko receives The Blessing from her father for the first time. Nagiko's body as text. Jerome, Nagiko and her maid in a textually dense setting.
Nagiko and Jerome in the bath.
The publisher covets the Pillow Book that has become of Jerome.
Nagiko, covered in writing of light.
Nagiko, writing one of the Books after Jerome's death. Vivian Wu (Nagiko) with director Peter Greenaway.
Book Thirteen: The Book of the Dead.
A wonderfully multi-screened scene. A signature Greenaway visual. Nagiko, as text, reads text.  

Recommended Readings

Greenaway, Peter. The Pillow Book. Paris: Dis Voir, 1996. [The companion book to Greenaway's film, which contains the original and complete script, his introduction, and a translation of the writing on each on the Thirteen Books.]

Willoquet-Maricondi, Paula. 'Fleshing the Text: Greenaway's Pillow Book and the Erasure of the Body', Postmodern Culture, 9.2, 1999. http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/pmc/text-only/issue.199/9.2willoquet.txt.

James, Nick. ‘Body Talk’, Sight and Sound, 6, 11, 1996, pp. 14-17.

Thompson, Andrew. 'A Cinematic Melting Pot', American Cinematographer, 77, 1996, pp.99-100.

Tovey, Claire. ‘The Pillow Book’, Sight and Sound, 6, 1996, pp. 57-8.

Hawthorne, Christopher. ‘Flesh and Ink: Peter Greenaway’, Salon Magazine, June 1997, http://www.salon.com/june97/greenaway970606.html.

Gilman, Karyn. 'Written on the Body', Letter Arts Review, 12, 4, 1996, pp. 36-47.

Hayes, Julie Candler. 'Look But Don't Read: Chinese characters and the translating drive from John Wilkins to Peter Greenaway'. Modern Language Quarterly, 60, 3, 1999, pp. 353-377.

Woods, Alan. Being Naked, Playing Dead: The Art of Peter Greenaway, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996. [Not analytically brilliant regarding The Pillow Book, but Woods' book contains a detailed and useful interview with Greenaway regarding The Pillow Book.]

Related Readings

(Of more general interest on Greenaway's work.)

Gras, Vernon. 'Dramatizing the Failure to Jump the Culture/Nature Gap: The Films of Peter Greenaway', New Literary History, 26.1, 1995, pp. 123-143. [Gras' argument explores what he sees as the paradox of a filmmaker with a powerful political message whose work serves to destabilise the possibility of art making any significant political, cultural (or, indeed, any) statements at all. The argument is not terribly convincing, but does provide insight into all of Greenaway's films from The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) through to Prospero's Books (1991).]

Lawrence, Amy. The films of Peter Greenaway, Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Elliott, Bridget and Purdy, Anthony. Peter Greenaway : architecture and allegory, Chichester, England: Academy Editions, 1997.

Greenaway Web Links

Peter Greenaway Site
This site has heaps of Greenaway material, including: Biography, Art, Films, Opera, Exhibitions, Essays, Studies, Bibliography, and Mediography. Unfortunately some of the articles listed aren't in English, but it's worth having a look at those that are.

Peter Greenaway.com
A beautifully crafted website with lots of graphics and links to online purchasing of Greenaway's films and books. Not overly endowed with critical material, but worth a look for the amazing pictures.

IMDb Pillow Book Page
All the production details, official information and other 'facts' about The Pillow Book at the Internet Movie Database.

Peter Greenaway: Artworks
An Italian and English language website constructed to celebrate an exhibition of Greenaway's paintings and screenings of his films in Italy. Contains some interest material as well as scans of some of the art displayed.

The Cinematic Endevours of Peter Greenaway
A wonderfully eclectic website with links to all sorts of Greenaway goodies, including material from The Tulse Luper Suitcase (see below).

Peter Greenaway: Blackboard Paintings 99
Another wonderful exhibition of Greenaway's paintings (different ones). Most are digitised and viewable over the web.

Prospero's Cell
A page dedicated to Greenaway's Prospero's Books (1991).
To go straight to the list of the list of Prospero's 26 books, click here.

The Tulse Luper Suitcase
The official website for Greenaway's latest project. (You need the FLASH player to view this site.)


This page was created and is maintained by Tama Leaver. This site is intended as homage and no copyright infringement is intended. Copyright remains with its official holders, and any material considered conflicting with copyright holder's wishes will be removed immediately upon request. Last updated: 13 December 2006.