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1. Mandarins: Stories by Ryunosuke
2. The Beautiful and the Grotesque
3. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories
4. Akutagawa Ryunosuke Short Story
5. Rashomon and Other Stories (Tuttle
6. Kappa (Peter Owen Modern Classics)
7. A Fool's Life
8. Rashomon and Other Stories
9. Hell Screen
10. Rashomon and Other Stories
11. Disaster Movies
12. Ryunosuke Akutagawa's Kappa
13. Akutagawa Ryunosuke zensakuhin
14. Tokuhain Akutagawa Ryunosuke:
15. Akutagawa bungaku no shuhen (Akutagawa
16. Akutagawa Ryunosuke sakuhin kenkyu
17. Akutagawa Ryunosuke no Kurisuto-zo:
18. Akutagawa Ryunosuke (Iwanami shinsho.
19. Akutagawa Ryunosuke: Sakka to
20. Soei: Akutagawa Ryunosuke to otto

1. Mandarins: Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Paperback: 255 Pages (2007-05-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0977857603
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Ryunosuke Akutagawa blends a sense of sad inevitability with subtle irony. Reflective and often humorous, these tales reveal an enormous amount about Japanese culture, while the inner struggles of the characters always strike the universal.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Shows Sides of This Author That Differ from the Usual
This book was published in 2007 and contained 15 short stories by Akutagawa. As far as could be determined, six of the stories appeared in English for the first time.

The collection might surprise readers who come to this book looking only for macabre, psychologically intense stories set in the past, like "Rashomon," "In a Grove" and "Hell Screen." The translator included a few stories broadly of this type, like "The Death of a Disciple," "Fortune," and "Kesa and Morito" (1918), a brilliantly reimagined event from Japanese medieval times told in the first person, from the clashing perspectives of a man and a woman. But like other reviewers wrote, mainly this anthology seemed intended to show readers a wider variety of styles in this author's career than one usually finds. That's its major accomplishment. It might be enjoyed especially by those who are familiar with Akutagawa's best-known stories and seeking an introduction to other types of works.

There were tales here, for example, from the author's early career set in contemporary times, presented without a narrator ("The Handkerchief," "Autumn," "The Garden"). There were tales set in the present and incorporating a narrator who stood in for the author ("Mandarins," "An Enlightened Husband," "An Evening Conversation"), though the autobiographical element in this period was usually rather light. From his middle period, there was a story that was more strongly autobiographical ("At the Seashore"), based on details from the author's days as a university student.

For the late period, there were the two autobiographical ones that anthologies usually present for this author ("The Life of a Fool" and "Cogwheels"), but also one that was impressive for its restraint in not being obsessively autobiographical, though it was published just a month before his death ("Winter"). There was also a late work that wasn't directly autobiographical at all ("The Villa of the Black Crane").

The works set in the present covered such themes as an idealist from the Meiji Period who married for love but was disappointed. The passing away of a Meiji Period family and its tranquil garden in the wake of modernization, and the shabby but blackly humorous death of a patriarch. And a story about a contemporary woman who married unhappily, rare for this author in that its main character wasn't a man. None of these tales contained any violence, ghosts, h-ll screens, burning carriages, robbers or Rashomon.

Among the tales set in the present, the pieces enjoyed most in this anthology were "Mandarins" (1919), a memorable vignette of observation and feeling during a train ride taken by the narrator. And "Winter" (1927), a masterful depiction of the narrator's visit to his cousin in a Tokyo prison. This was a fictional tale, though it drew from experiences in the author's family.

Some of the other stories, interesting though they were for their themes and the scope they afforded on the author's career, for me at times lacked the precision and force of his very best works. "O'er a Withered Moor" and "The Villa of the Black Crane," for example, seemed to go on much too long, with too many characters and comparatively little reward.

The translator's style was quite graceful and in my opinion compared well with other recent anthologies. His endnotes maintained a focus on the author's stories, not the life, usefully highlighting various background aspects. For example, possible intentions behind the writing of "The Handkerchief," which was modeled on a prominent personality of the time. The fact that elements in a story about a Christian martyr were drawn from a legend surrounding the origin of the bodhisattva Kannon. And that depending on the Japanese characters used, the name of the "black crane" villa in one of the stories could also be written as "hallucination."

Other recent anthologies for Akutagawa include Jay Rubin's Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (2006) and Seiji Lippit's The Essential Akutagawa (1999). All have their strong points in showing various sides of this author, and readers who enjoy this author would doubtless want to read all of them.

5-0 out of 5 stars A welcome addition to Japanese literature shelves.
Skillfully translated from the original Japanese by Charles De Wolf, Mandarins: Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa is an anthology of short stories written during the all-too-brief life of Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927). Fluidly evoking 1920's Japan, in an era when traditions were in flux and the yearning for personal liberty burned brightly, Mandarins features characters who struggle against the society around them. The three stories in Mandarins, translated into English for the first time, are "An Enlightened Husband", "An Evening Conversation", and "Winter". At times cruel, at times fantastically descriptive, Akutagawa's prose resonates with a piercing clarity on every page. A welcome addition to Japanese literature shelves.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Alternate Angle on Akutagawa
If one wants to read the vaguely disturbing stories of Akutagawa Ryunosuke, the "Father of the Japanese Short Story" in English translation, there are any number of good collections available. This one is a little different, though, and not just because it includes three works never before translated. Akutagawa is justifiably famous for taking old tales from classical Japanese literature and giving them an unusual psychological twist--this is by far the Akutagawa most familiar to readers abroad, but retold tales in this line are after all only one aspect of this versatile author's overall literary output. That being the case, the translator here has wisely chosen to de-emphasize (though not entirely ignore) such stories and focus instead on Akutagawa's more explicitly modern--and modernist--works, many from the latter years of this fine author's unnaturally short life.

Some of these stories are clearly autobiographical, giving us precious glimpses of what it was like coming of age as an educated youth in early twentieth century Japan as well as startling and uncomfortable gazes into his slow and unsteady descent into mental instability. Others, largely non-autobiographical, are just good old finely crafted explorations of the human condition rendered through the words and actions of characters that seem memorably real. Others still fall somewhere in between, like "O'er a Withered Moor"--ostensibly a fictional retelling of the death of the Haiku poet Matsuo Basho surrounded by his disciples and a meditation on selfishness and mortality, it is also clearly a reflection by Akutagawa upon the recent death of his own mentor, the novelist Natsume Soseki. Whatever the case, all of the stories herein showcase Akutagawa's uncanny ability to focus an uncompromising lens intently into the darker corners of the human heart and the murkier ambiguities of the human condition as always while also demonstrating his surefire grasp of the dread and anxiety inherent in our experience of modernity, whatever its erstwhile advantages may be.

Charles De Wolf does an excellent job of rendering Akutagawa into English, it should be mentioned, and provides just the right amount of background material for each story: not so much that the text is overburdened with footnotes, but enough unobtrusively in the back of the book that now nearly a century after these stories were first published their intended context and assumed knowledge are right there at one's fingertips, along with the original titles and publication dates and such. De Wolf has also done extensive work with the medieval tale collections and Buddhist miracle accounts so often re-interpreted by Akutagawa and so is in an unusually good position to clarify for the reader just what kind of spin Akutagawa is putting on these, at least for the few translated here. This then is an indispensable short story collection both for those with an abiding interest in modern literature (Japanese or otherwise) but especially for longtime Akutagawa fans who will surely enjoy seeing his work from a new and somewhat rare perspective--even if the effect is a bit, well, Rashomonesque.

Stories included in this book:
1. Mandarins
2. At the Seashore
3. An Evening Conversation
4. The Handkerchief
5. An Enlightened Husband
6. Autumn
7. Winter
8. Fortune
9. Kesa and Morito
10. The Death of a Disciple
11. O'er a Withered Moor
12. The Garden
13. The Life of a Fool
14. The Villa of the Black Crane
15. Cogwheels

4-0 out of 5 stars Translation preference keeps it from 5 stars
I'm a big Akutagawa fan, and have only read in this volume so far the couple stories that also appear in the penguin books deluxe collection of shorts.

So far, and I have no way to go to the source since I am an English speaker, I dislike this translation, to the point where the choice of words seems to take out some of the energy from the penguin translations.

I'll update this review after getting to the stories original to this volume.

Any new translations of Akutagawa are better then none. ... Read more

2. The Beautiful and the Grotesque
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Paperback: 448 Pages (2010-07-26)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871401924
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From one of the masters of the short story comes an unforgettable collection of haunting and strange tales.Ever since his death in 1927, Ryunosuke Akutagawa has been hailed as one of the greatest short story writers in world literature. Most famous for his story Rashomon and the Kurosawa movie it inspired, Akutagawa’s wide range of fiction is beautifully displayed in this newly reissued collection of his stories. With characteristic lyricism and great style, the stories here capture the strange world of Akutagawa, from the slow, gentle death of a haiku master (“Withered Fields”) to a vicious, marauding gang and their bloody fight with samurai (“The Robbers”), and the sly tale told from a dog’s perspective of his escape from home (“The Dog, Shiro”). Throughout these stories, Akutagawa captures the often confused spirit of a Japan undergoing great change and confronting modernity at the turn of the last century. But these stories remain timeless classics, and any reader, whether a fan of Akutagawa or someone discovering him for the first time, will find wonderful delight in these unusual stories. Previously published in a Liveright edition as Exotic Japanese Stories. ... Read more

3. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (Penguin Classics)
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Paperback: 268 Pages (2009-03-03)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140449701
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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One of Penguin Classics's most popular translations- now also in our elegant black spine dress ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars Death and Madness
"Rashomon" tells the story of a "lowly servant" sheltering from the rain on the steps of a rashomon (outer castle gate). He has recently been laid off and sits pondering his future. He hears a sound and ventures inside the rashomon to see what it was. Inside are heaps of dead bodies from the recent plague and a strange old woman wandering about, going through the corpses' clothes. The servant attacks the old woman, strips her of her clothing, throws her onto the heap, and runs off.

"In a Bamboo Grove" features a married couple and a robber. The story is told from the perspective of all witnesses and it emerges that the husband was murdered but who did it and why is the mystery.

These are the two most famous Akutagawa stories and are an excellent start to the collection. However, afterwards they become quite mediocre and even a bit tedious. The forced gothic of "Hell Screen" plods along until a near hysterical ending that undermines the seriousness of the story, that of obssession and the artistic mind. "The Nose" is a very odd story about a priest with a very big nose, has it shortened, and it grows back again. It's one of those "be grateful for what you have, accept who you are" type tales and not nearly as brilliant as Gogol's "The Nose" (Gogol being one of Akutagawa's influences and, frankly, a better short story writer).

As the title suggests there are 18 stories here but those are the only ones I can remember. The last couple in the section called "Akutagawa's Own Story" are interesting, with "Life of a Stupid Man" playing with form and presenting an interesting take on autobiography through small snippets of a life glimpsed in passing. "Spinning Gears" is the final story he wrote before his suicide (pills) and is about the slowly disintegrating mind of Akutagawa. The desperation and mounting paranoia give the reader an insight into Akutagawa's fragile and fractured mindset. The strange imagery is also fascinating. The spinning gears he sees around his eyes confuse and scare him while at every turn he sees signs of death - a decaying animal corpse, dying people in hospitals, and above all his morbid fear of going insane like his mother.

I won't say I didn't enjoy the book as there were some stories here that were excellent, and whether it's Jay Rubin's translation or not, the writing was always of a high standard. And students of literature will find reading "Rashomon" and "In a Bamboo Grove" very rewarding as will film students who are interested in the work of Kurasawa who based his film "Rashomon" on those stories. But compared to other short story writers and other Japanese writers, Akutagawa isn't nearly on their level.

5-0 out of 5 stars roshomon-does truth exist, or only opinion?
Roshomon is one version on the subject of personal versions of the truth. "Outrage", with Paul Newman and Claire Bloom,is a film version of the same theme. A rape occurs, the witnesses have different opinions. The fact of intercourse between the character played by Newman and Bloom is a fact.Whether it is rape or love depends on who is telling the story.

This story translated from Japanese is well written, worth reading,and skillfully touches on this eternal debate.

The current popular version of this debate seems to be that facts and truth do not exist.

However, the sun rises from east to west. A man can not be younger than his mother. Are these facts, or is it possible they are just opinions or a subject of an extensive debate?

The world, according to some, is flat. As absurd as such a belief is today, someone who argues that from his perspective,the world does appear flat has merit. Objects do not fall into space, but sit ridgely on a table. Without the benefit of contact with modern science one could argue his opinion without being considered mentally ill.But, that same person he could not argue that the sun always rises in one place, and sets in another; or that he can not be younger than his natural mother.

The philosopy that no facts exist, or that all actions depend on personal observation is currently a popular theory. In the recent past, the majority of the world heard a US President state he did not have sex with a woman. He then justified that comment, to avoid commiting perjury, that from his point of view, his actions were not "sexual". For personal reasons of their own, others concured that his point of view was correct, and he did not suffer from an abberation.

"Crime and Punishment" is a story of a man, who decides that a selfish and evil woman should be robbed. In the course of the robbery, she is killed. And a completly innocent person is also killed. The writer creates a justification for the actions of the killer. He considers himself better than the murdered woman,more worthy and entitled to live. The torment within his mind and judgment of society eventually exposes that facts and truth. Some one was killed, and killed them. Ethical discussion and personal opinion is not sustained, and punishment follows.

The current trend of philosophy seems to be tacking in a different direction.A more recent Woody Allen movie, also named "Crime and Punishment" moves away from the act of murder to a justification based on circumstance. The killer by proxy,is a sucessful, married man who is tempted into an affair. He is honest with the woman. He is married and in love with his wife, and would never leave her. His point of view remains constant. The mistress has fallen in love and wants him to leave his wife.The ehtical problem presented is to prevent hurting his wife; and more selfishly to maintain his reputation and career. His choice, based on his conception of honesty, is that he is the person wronged. In his mind, the only solution is to rid himself of the woman. Although tormented by his decision, he feels justified in having the "trouble" removed by a hired assassin. The idea of killing his mistress is too revolting, as is the act itself.However, he goes on with his life, and the viewer is left with the perspective that the personal torment begins to fade as he goes on with his life.

The new philosphy isthe fact of the murder has somehow been justified from the perspective that the murder was not murder, but a difficult but justifiable judgment. Whether the mistress was killed, a fact; or murdered as a result of an ethical perspective of one person, must be decided by the viewer or reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best of a Master
Considered to be one of the greatest national writers of Japan, Rynosuke Akutagawa had a short but brilliant career in the early twentieth century. This collection includes some of his best known short stories, such as "Rashmon", "Spinning Gears", "Loyalty", and "The Nose", as well as some of his lesser-known works. The stories range from humorous, to historical, to agonizingly autobiographical. The Penguin Classics edition also includes a wonderfully insightful introduction by Haruki Murakami.

For much of Akutagawa's early career, he delved into Japan's literary past. The story "Loyalty" is a complex tale based on a true event that took place during the Tokugawa period, when the young head of a noble family went insane, creating a crisis among his samurai retainers. Samurai were meant to be loyal to the death, but that loyalty also extended to the Shogun. If one's master posed a thread to the Shogun, where should your loyalty lie? This is the problem that faces two very different retainers, each of whom must make an almost impossible decision. The story explores not only loyalty, but the issues of sanity, respect, obligation, and shame.

Some of the more humorous stories include "Horse Legs" and "The Story of a Head That Fell Off", both involving dead men who suffer terrible humiliations, one at the hand of some spiritual bureaucrats, and the other because of a medical miracle. But the final section of the book, which include those selections that tell Akutagawa's own story, is possibly the most moving and compelling. Akutagawa's childhood was difficult, as his mother went insane shortly after his birth. He was afraid of mental illness for the remainder of his life, and the final story of the book, "Spinning Gears" tells the tale of his last months spent in depression and constant anxiety. He suffered from insomnia, hallucinations, and constantly worried about his own sanity. It is the final passage of the story that conveys Akutagawa's overwhelming despair:

"I don't have the strength to keep writing this. To go on living with this feeling is painful beyond description. Isn't there someone kind enough to strangle me in my sleep"

The story was published posthumously in 1927, the year Akutagawa took his own life. The story progresses toward that inevitable conclusion, and gives us an insight into Akutagawa's tortured mind.

3-0 out of 5 stars book is good, but the binding fell apart
I am enjoying the book. However, the binding fell apart and most of the pages have fallen out. I have had to tape them back in to finish reading the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Westernism comes to Japan.
Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Rashomon and 17 Other Stories (Penguin, 2006)

I'll admit I picked this up less because it was Akutagawa than the bit that said "illustrated by Yoshihiro Tatsumi", who's been one of the best in the business for over thirty years. When I actually got it, I found out Tatsumi was only responsible for the cover, but I went ahead and read it anyway. Eighteen of Akutagawa's stories, including "Rashomon" and "In a Grove" (the two stories that, in combination, Kurosawa adapted into the movie Rashomon). Very simple, almost stark at times. Haruki Murakami, in his introduction, stops short of naming Akutagawa as the founder of Japanese modernism, but all signs seem to point that way; if you're a fan of Japanese modernism, this is a no-brainer. For others-- well, if you haven't been exposed to any Japanese media culture at all, you might be in for something of a surprise. Not so much on the level of the stories themselves, which are quite wonderful and universal in their emotional scope, but in the directness of Akutagawa's prose style. This isn't the kind of thing you'll find in American story anthologies; we tend to gussy things up with flowery language and endless subplots and Moments of Great Import(TM). Akutagawa just has a story to tell (in many of the earlier stories, he's just retelling old fairy tales in new language, though the later stories show a more autobiographical side), and he tells it, and that's the end of it. You may find this as refreshing as I do, just be aware of what's lurking between these covers. ****

... Read more

4. Akutagawa Ryunosuke Short Story Selection vol.1 [mikan +1] (in Japanese)
by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-08-11)
list price: US$0.99
Asin: B002LE74DO
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Akutagawa Ryunosuke Short Story Selection vol.1
Titles Included: Mikan, Watashi no Sukina Romance no naka no Josei

Ryunosuke AKUTAGAWA (March 1, 1892 - July 24, 1927) is one of the most famous and excellent author in Japanese literature of all times. Ryunosuke was active in early 20th century during Taisho era. He is regarded as the "Father of the Japanese short story", and is well noted for his distinguished style of writing and finely detailed stories enriched with parables and anecdotes, which were often based on Japanese classic literature, in pursuit of expressing and questioning the deep nature inside human being. ... Read more

5. Rashomon and Other Stories (Tuttle Classics)
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Howard Hibbet, Kojima Takashi
Paperback: 112 Pages (2007-11-15)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4805308826
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This collection of short stories includes "In a Grove", a psychologically sophisticated tale about murder, rape, and suicide; "Rashomon", the story of a thief scared into honesty by an encounter with a ghoul; and "Kesa and Morito", the story of man driven to kill someone he doesn't hate by a lover whom he doesn't love.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars I wish I could read japanese
In the preface, the translator illustrates that this work is far more beautifully written in Japanese. This book, being so elegantly written, motivates me to learn the native language. A book so beautiful should not sit on a shelf, I gave it to someone who would understand what it had to offer. I told her that the one condition is that once she finishes it she must do the same.
"Ancient Japan was a pretty strange place" says Louise Vargo, a character in "Ghost Dog." This book is a motif in this fantastic movie and I couldn't help but find out more.
Being someone who is interested in Japanese culture I thought I should read this book that is far too short And you should too, if you are interested.

5-0 out of 5 stars short and unsettling
Ryunosuke Akutagawa, as the introduction to this work will tell you, is one of the most well known and admired figures in Japanese literature.He was a sensitive and cynical man who wrote more than one hundred short before his early death in 1927.Like many people in the West, I think I was drawn to Akutagawa's work after viewing Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" and wanted to read the story (or stories, rather) upon which it was based.Just as Kurosawa was a master of the moving image, Akutagawa was a master of the written language and a keen observer of the human condition.

For those not familiar with Akutagawa's work, be warned: his dark, ironic and frequently pessimistic world-view is not for everyone.In his stories love, honor and decency are often frequently and unexpectedly replaced by jealousy, hatred and violence.This collection of stories can easily be read in one or two sittings, but it's unsettling effects will likely stay with you for long you put it down. ... Read more

6. Kappa (Peter Owen Modern Classics)
by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
Paperback: 200 Pages (2009-11-28)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 072061337X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In Japanese folklore the Kappa is a scaly, child-sized creature with a face like a tiger and a sharp, pointed beak. In the hands of Ryunosuke, one man's journey to `Kappaland' becomes the vehicle for a critique of Japanese life and customs in the tradition of Swift and Kafka. A perfectly formed gem from the pen of one of Japan's most important modern writers (creator of Rashomon), Kappa is at once a fable, a comedy, and a brilliant satire. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
This is an enchanting story, mostly because it doesn't try to be. The narrator tells the story of his life with the Kappas very matter-of-factly, which is what allows readers to suspend their natural disbelief and accept the reality of Kappaland and its inhabitants. Kappas are as different from each other as humans. Some are shy, some are arrogant, some are friendly, and all are unique. The lone human is accepted into their world readily, and they are all eager to teach him about their world. He is given lessons on Kappa philosophy, Kappa culture and literature, and Kappa relationships. He befriends several of the creatures, experiences loss, and ultimately becomes disillusioned with what at first seemed like a utopia under the ground.

Most people are familiar with Akutagawa's other works, such as Rashomon, but Kappa is a wonderful place to start if you are unfamiliar with Japanese literature. I enjoyed every page of this book, and recommend it to anyone who loves fairy tales and modern adventure stories. Although the narrator is presented as a madman, it's really left up to the reader to decide if his experience was a dream, or if it really happened. And if it did, could it happen to you?

5-0 out of 5 stars Human Visits the Land of Japanese Water Sprites
Ryunosuke Akutagawa was the premier Short Story fiction author of early 20th century Japan.His career was cut short by his suicide at age of 34 following his descent into madness.Kappa is one of the last pieces that Akutagawa wrote, and true to his form, he was often influenced by ancient tales of mythological creatures.This particular novella is the story of a mental institution patient who describes his sojourn in the land of Kappa, Japanese water sprites.Indeed, except for the size, Kappaland mirrors Japanese society.Akutagawa uses various archetype characters to reflect on the changes in contemporary Japan - the student, the poet, the composer, the businessman.Also, in the detailed interest in suicide and death in this story, one sees the upcoming suicide of Akutagawa himself.All the major characters are male and in Kappa society, the female Kappa are the pursuer and wooer of the males, quite the opposite from Japanese society.Just as Akutagawa himself was heavily influenced by the newly "discovered" European writers and philosophers, the Kappa revere many of these same authors.During his life, Akutagawa was obsessed with Kappa and produced many drawings, alas none of which are in this volume. What is invaluable to the reader is Healey's lengthy introduction which includes a short biographical sketch of Akutagawa, and puts this story in the context of his life's work.

3-0 out of 5 stars An author disgusted with humanity's hypocrisy and egotism
This Japanese novel by Ryunosuke Akutagawa was rather too broad a satire for my tastes.I read it because the INKlings of Haruki Murakami's novel "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" were based on the kappa.These are creatures from Japanese folklore with slimy amphibian bodies, a water-filled saucer at the top of the head, and the ability to change color to match the background, like a chameleon."Kappa (folklore)" on Wikipedia gives more information.

Actually, I enjoyed the long essay on Ryunosuke's life (by Graham Healey) at the beginning of the book more than the novel itself.Ryunosuke's mother became insane and used to draw people, but always with fox faces.Later Ryunosuke, who had been fascinated with mythology as a child, made many drawings of the kappa.

The novel shows Ryunosuke's increasing disgust for humanity -- thinly veiled as the Kappa -- and indeed, after suffering increasing mental illness, he committed suicide in 1927 at age 35.

4-0 out of 5 stars Memorable satire
"Kappa" is a wonderful lampoon of Japanese society written by the gifted but troubled Akutagawa Ryunosuke.Even though nearly 80 years have passed since Kappa was written, the people and subjects that Akutagawa impales with his pen (religion, capitalism, literature, abortion, heredity, etc.) are no less pressing today, making Kappa nearly as easy to analyze and enjoy now as when it was written.

Akutagawa's writing style is a joy as always, and the plot is familiar to readers of Robinson Crusoe or Alice in Wonderland (Akutagawa finished translating Alice in Wonderland the same year he wrote Kappa).Adapting the tale to Japan, Akutagawa chooses to use an outsider to Kappaland in a role as a "specially protected person," much like foreigners were treated (and to a degree still are treated) in Japan.The reader is left with the question of whether Patient 23 is sane or not, and more importantly, has the world we live in gone mad?Despite the years that have passed since it was written, Kappa continues to be a fun and pertinent read.Reading Kappa, I am reminded of the great shame it is that the world lost as brilliant a writer as Akutagawa at such a young age.

5-0 out of 5 stars The distorted mirror of Kappaland
"Kappa" is told from the point of view of Patient 23, an asylum inmate who tells of his incredible journey into the heart of Kappaland, peopled by the Kappa, the magical creatures of Japanese folklore.

In the tradition of "Gulliver's Travels," inside Kappaland, Akutagawa, author of "Rashomon" and "In the Grove," has created a twisted reflection of both his contemporary Japanese society and his own self-loathing.It has been a difficult tale to interpret in Japan, being hailed as either a children's story, a social satire or simply weird.Akutagawa himself feared insanity due to his mother's mental deterioration during his youth, and his own justified fear of the taint of madness in his blood.

Akutagawa's mental state when writing "Kappa" is important background, and the paperback edition comes with an extensive mini-biography of the famous author that is almost the size of the story itself.Akutagawa never wrote novels, and it is strange to see a single story packaged in one book.The introduction/biography is well written as well, and helps to reveal the story.

The writing in "Kappa" is sharp and quick-witted.The satire is equal parts clever and odd.Religion, marriage, arts and entertainment, all are in part skewered and skewed.The book is an incredibly fast read, and one that you will want to pass to your friends to read as well, so that you can see what someone else makes of it. ... Read more

7. A Fool's Life
by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
 Hardcover: 135 Pages (1970)

Isbn: 0670323500
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10 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 3/4. 12 etchings from Mushinsha print collection. ... Read more

8. Rashomon and Other Stories
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Paperback: 96 Pages (1999-12)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871401738
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This fascinating collection gave birth to a newparadigm when Akira Kurosawa made famousAkutagawa's disturbing tale of seven peoplerecounting the same incident from shockinglydifferent perspectives.Writing at the beginning of the twentiethcentury, Ryunosuke Akutagawa created disturbingstories out of Japan's cultural upheaval.Whether his fictions are set centuries past orclose to the present, Akutagawa was a modernist, writing in polished, superbly nuanced prosesubtly exposing human needs and flaws. "Ina Grove," which was the basis forKurosawa's classic film Rashomon, tells thechilling story of the killing of a samuraithrough the testimony of witnesses, includingthe spirit of the murdered man. The fable-like"Yam Gruel" is an account of desireand humiliation, but one in which the reader'ssympathy is thoroughly unsettled. And in"The Martyr," a beloved orphan raisedby Jesuit priests is exiled when he refuses toadmit that he made a local girl pregnant. Heregains their love and respect only at the price of his life. All six tales in the collection show Akutagawa as a master storyteller and an exciting voice of modern Japanese literature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting stories, but not enough to recommend.
Akutagawa's collection of six stories here is quite interesting."In a Grove" is the best one, of course and it inspired the Kurosawa film "Rashomon".In that, we see people lying, and we see false "confessions", and we have no idea what the truth really was.That was almost enough to recommend, but the others don't rise up enough."Yam Gruel" is about the tragedy of getting what you want."The Martyr" is a story of a person falsely accused of a shocking deed, but gives up their own life to save their accuser.The others have been mentioned and aren't as good as the three I mentioned

5-0 out of 5 stars Short stories from another era
I was easily drawn into this collection of seven of Akutagawa's short stories. They're brief, enigmatic, and very Japanese, an echo of the author's own brief and enigmatic life. The book opens with `In a Grove' a murder mystery with too many confessions - including one by the victim. It continues with the title story `Rashomon', less a story than a snapshot of moral choice. `The Martyr' creates an odd mix of Japanese tradition with Christianity, a story of honor ruined and restored, but with a deeper secret that makes restoration much more than it seemed. There are other stories as well, including `Kesa and Mirito,' about infidelity and vengeance (or something like it). If you need proof that these vignettes come from a non-Western world, this story gives all you need and more.

Akutagawa, writing in Japan at the dawn of the twentieth century, evokes a time and place that seem much farther. I recommend this highly, for the sense it gives of how similar other times and people may be to us now, and also how very different.


5-0 out of 5 stars Yam Gruel
I'll open by saying that I picked Rashomon up because of how critical it is in the movie Ghost Dog (quick piece; Forest Whitaker plays a person who works for them mob from time to time as a hitman.He only works for one person in the mob and he follows the code of bushido.Rating it on the Amazon scale, I'd rate it 4.5 out of 5!).

Rashomon is a series of short stories written by Akutagawa in the early 1900's describing life in medieval Japan.All of these stories have excellent descriptions of people and how the people act/react to the story being told.As a matter of fact, when reading this book, the characters reminded me of Kurosawa's character development in his movies.As for the stories themselves, Akutagawa often uses biting satire to describe things much as O'Henry did (actually, in reading Rashomon I was reminded of O'Henry more than once).

If you have an interest in medieval Japan or stories with character, I highly recommend Rashomon.My personal rating, 4.5 out of 5.Since Amazon doesn't permit half stars, round it up to 5!Btw, there is a similarity between Ghost Dog and Rashomon; character development and the way the story unfolds!

5-0 out of 5 stars Despair, hope and luxurious soups
This is the second Ryunosuke Akutagawa book that I have read, the first one being "Kappa."The change in tone was a bit of a shock for me, for whereas "Kappa" is a wry, witty political commentary, the stories collected in "Rashomon and Other Stories" are bleak and brilliant.

Each of the stories, while very short indeed, packs a powerful punch.Akutagawa managed to condense despair into its basest elements, then packaged it raw and hurting, yet beautiful and human. The title story, "Roshomon," is a scant 9 1/2 pages long yet you would not wish for a single extra word to be included.

Of course, not all the stories in this collection are so dismal.The longest tale, "Yam Gruel," shows something of the wittiness and lightness of "Kappa."Some of the stories, such as the catholic influenced, "The Martyr," might be considered uplifting if you take a spiritual lesson from it."In the Grove," the story that is the basis for the Kurosawa film "Rashomon," is an engaging story on the truth and ego and interpretation.But bleak nonetheless.

The translation of "Rashomon and Other Stories" is excellent, and captures the style and intent beautifully.It is a very old translation, as can be shown by the translator feeling the need to include a note explaining what "sushi" is.

My single complaint about this book is that, for the price, it is very small indeed.It could have contained at least double the amount of Akutagawa short stories, which certainly exist, and been a better collection.

3-0 out of 5 stars make sure you know what you're buying
To clarify some possible misunderstandings about this book:

1.This is not an "old" book, like The Book of Five Rings or Hagakure.It was written in the 1900's.

2It's a book of short stories, not a novel or even a novella (together the stories total only 109 pages.)

3Yes, Kurosawa's film was based on one of the stories, "In a Grove," which examines the circumstances of a rape from differing points of view.This story is about 13 pages.While the story is not bad, I would imagine that one would have to be a pretty hard-core fan of that film to buy this book just for that.

4.There is, however, a story called "Rashomon" in this collection, but this heavy-handed tale has little connection to the Kurosawa film, though Kurosawa may have lifted the tone and setting of his film's opening from the opening of this story.For you to decide.

5. What is or was the "Rashomon"?This is something I didn't know...To quote from the book (31n):"The 'Rashomon' was the largest gate in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.It was 106 feet wide and 26 feet deep, and was topped with a ridge-pole; its stone-wall rose 75 feet high.This gate was constructed in 789 when the then capital of Japan was transferred to Kyoto.With the decline of West Kyoto, the gate fell into bad repair, cracking and crumbling in many places, and became a hide-out for thieves and robbers and a place for abandoning unclaimed corpses." ... Read more

9. Hell Screen
by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
Kindle Edition: Pages (2010-07-01)
list price: US$3.99
Asin: B003XREK1M
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Akutagawa's deceptively simple tale of Yoshihide, "The Greatest Painter in Japan." Hired by the Grand Lord to put the underworld on canvas, the single-minded painter fulfills his commission with startling, yet understated results. ... Read more

10. Rashomon and Other Stories
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Paperback: 1 Pages (1970-06)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0871402149
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rashoman
This book was varied excellence. The off center views of the characters are incredible and vivid. I found meaning andpeace of mind in THE MATYR. This story especially showed the best in the worst of people. This is the best collection of stories I have come across and a great surprise as well.I recommend this book highly for anyone looking for something short and sweet.

5-0 out of 5 stars a little something for everyone
This is a wonderful book. Witty, charming and somehow welcomingus in its world. If you like stories you'll love these, if you're into creative writing definitely check it out.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why do I admire Akutagawa?
Ever since I first picked up a volume of mr.Akutagawa's novellas I knew i'd stumbled on something out of the ordinary.Even though it was when I was about 14 or 15 years of age he still remains my favorite writer.Why then?This is rather complicated and as with others in the field so wide and full of talent and lack of the above it requires reader's own frame of mind and presence of nostalgia and melancholy.His insight in the everyday things and the cry of his soul so loud that a true romantic will cry with him ... Read more

11. Disaster Movies
by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
Paperback: 4012 Pages (2007-12)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0889628475
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Disaster movies have been around from the very beginning of film. This fun, thrilling, unique genre has always captivated audiences around the world and spawned millions of fanatical disaster devotees. Indeed, some of the most successful movies in history have been disaster films. There hasn't been a book devoted exclusively to the disaster genre in some thirty years! Until now...This is a new, comprehensive roadmap of the genre. The book: is a history of the genre; includes reviews of all the disaster films; articles on the films and the genre; includes full details about directors and the stars of the genre; written in a humorous, even satirical, style; includes posters and photos and original illustrations. Each chapter is devoted to a specific 'type' of disaster: aeroplanes, earthquakes, avalanches, volcanoes, ships, meteors, fire, storms, radiation, viruses, mad bombers, killer bees, wild animals, aliens, and includes full information and reviews of each film in that category. ... Read more

12. Ryunosuke Akutagawa's Kappa
by Seiichi (translated from the Japanese) Shiojiri
 Hardcover: Pages (1949)

Asin: B0017S4O2Y
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13. Akutagawa Ryunosuke zensakuhin jiten (Japanese Edition)
Tankobon Hardcover: 36 Pages
-- used & new: US$276.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4585060154
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14. Tokuhain Akutagawa Ryunosuke: Chugoku de nani o mita no ka (Japanese Edition)
by Yasuyoshi Sekiguchi
Tankobon Hardcover: 214 Pages (1997)
-- used & new: US$84.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4620311499
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15. Akutagawa bungaku no shuhen (Akutagawa Ryunosuke sakuhinron shusei) (Japanese Edition)
Tankobon Hardcover: 390 Pages (2001)
-- used & new: US$185.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4877370870
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16. Akutagawa Ryunosuke sakuhin kenkyu (Japanese Edition)
by Akifu Kasai
 Hardcover: 271 Pages (1993)
-- used & new: US$169.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4881643460
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17. Akutagawa Ryunosuke no Kurisuto-zo: Oreta hashigo to to Emao no tabibitotachi (Japanese Edition)
by Zenya Sato
 Tankobon Hardcover: 170 Pages (1997)
-- used & new: US$83.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4773359951
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18. Akutagawa Ryunosuke (Iwanami shinsho. Shin akaban) (Japanese Edition)
by Yasuyoshi Sekiguchi
Paperback Shinsho: 8 Pages (1995)
-- used & new: US$65.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4004304148
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19. Akutagawa Ryunosuke: Sakka to sono jidai (Nihon bungaku kenkyu shiryo shinshu) (Japanese Edition)
 Tankobon Hardcover: 271 Pages (1987)

Isbn: 4640309694
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20. Soei: Akutagawa Ryunosuke to otto Hiroshi (Japanese Edition)
by Ruriko Akutagawa
 Tankobon Hardcover: 224 Pages (1984)

Isbn: 4103515015
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