Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) is one of Japan's foremost stylists - a modernist master whose short stories are marked by highly original imagery, cynicism, beauty and wild humour. 'Rashomon' and 'In a Bamboo Grove' inspired Kurosawa's magnificent film and depict a past in which morality is turned upside down, while tales such as 'The Nose', 'O-Gin' and 'Loyalty' paint a rich and imaginative picture of a medieval Japan peopled by Shoguns and priests, vagrants and peasants. And in later works such as 'Death Register', 'The Life of a Stupid Man' and 'Spinning Gears', Akutagawa drew from his own life to devastating effect, revealing his intense melancholy and terror of madness in exquisitely moving impressionistic stories.


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I'm really not sure how I feel about this book. Suffice it to say that I could very much see why this author is considered one of Japan's finest. His stories are tight, emotional, and involving. I think a few of the individual stories, particularly to wards the start of the anthology, were a little weak, hence the rating, but the later stories in particular were excelent, if incredibly dark and depressing. I love how Skutagawa weaves the supernatural in so naturaly too. I would also say that the editing of this book was excelent. The notes at the front from the editor and the copious footnotes really helped a non-Japanese person in understanding the nuances of these stories. The order they were aranged in was also logical and just genraly excelent.