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1. Biography - Akutagawa, Ryunosuke
2. Mandarins
3. Japanese Short Stories.
4. Hell Screen ("Jigoku Hen"): and
5. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories
6. Akutagawa and Dazai: Instances

1. Biography - Akutagawa, Ryunosuke (1892-1927): An article from: Contemporary Authors Online
by Gale Reference Team
Digital: 4 Pages (2006-01-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0007S9R4K
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Book Description
Word count: 1171. ... Read more

2. Mandarins
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Paperback: 255 Pages (2007-05)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0977857603
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Book Description

"Extravagance and horror are in his work but never in his style, which is always crystal clear."-Jorge Luis Borges

"In [Akutagawa's] spare, textured prose . . . he brings us clear-eyed glimpses of human behavior."-The New York Times Book Review

In Mandarins, 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 (3)

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

3. Japanese Short Stories.
by RyUnosuke, Akutagawa
 Hardcover: Pages (1970-01)
list price: US$14.50
Isbn: 0871409933
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

4. Hell Screen ("Jigoku Hen"): and Other Stories (H W Norman-Transl)
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
 Hardcover: 177 Pages (1970-07-01)
list price: US$52.50 -- used & new: US$52.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0837130174
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Book Description
"There can be no doubt that [Akutagawa] had more individuality than any other writer of his time and has left in Japanese literature a mass of artistic work, often grotesque and curious, that, while it undoubtedly angers the proletarian experimenters who now hold the stage and fight with lusty pens and a highly developed class consciousness against all that he stood for, will continue to live as long as men go on treasuring the fancies their fellows from time to time set down with care on paper."--Glen W. Shaw ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Hell Screen ("Jigoku Hen")
This is an amazing book - Ryunoske Akutagawa was probably one of the most talented but under rated authors of the whole talented bunch. Again, like most of the Japanese traslations (with exception of Mishima, Kawabata, Oe) - this is poor translation (I would rather use the term inadequate or less than sufficient). If we are aware of the culture then we can see the canvas much more clearly and understand how vivid it is. I found a fantastic first edition where the drawings are just amazing. To many of the western people the stories may look like folklores but believe me there is more to it. ... Read more

5. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Paperback: 320 Pages (2006-10-31)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0143039849
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Book Description
This collection features a brilliant new translation of the Japanese master’s stories, from the source for the movie Rashomon to his later, more autobiographical writings. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

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.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent edition
With 17 other stories, and alot of extras. The preface is well written, in how the translation has changed some over the years, and explaining the era, pronounceation of certain words, etc. I really don't need to go into this book as enough good reviews have said alot. The book stands the test of time as brilliant.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written and highly entertaining
I was expecting a lot when I first opened Rashomon and 17 other stories, and I was not let down.Ryunosuke Akutagawa has an amazing style, and also led an interesting and difficult life.I recommend that anyone considering this product get it, whether it be from a used book store or a new copy.You won't be let down.

Please, this refers to the Jay Rubin translation with the Barefoot Gen style graphic cover. Do not be deceived: This is not a "graphic novel" representation of the seventeen Akutagawa short stories in the style of the excellent and important historical Barefoot Gen series. You cannot tell from the Search Inside feature generously provided, which refers to another edition and another translator. This I refer to to is the Jay Rubin translation published by Penguin in 2006, and already available very economically. It is not a graphic novelization like Gen; it is the straight presentation of an excellent translation highly recommended to the thoughtful reader of advanced short stories.

Other reviewers have mentioned Kafka. I would add the early symbolist stories of James Joyce presented in cold realist style. But please do not categorize nor pigeon hole these profound presentations of reality from a meditative, Asian perspective. Enter this world without fear and ready to learn. Come with your cup emptied, ready to fill and to fill it up again.

Other reviewers have adequately explicated this excellent and generous collection which arrives to my grateful hands today. Finally perhaps something will release Mr. Joyce long enough from my hands to consider another author, having studied so long and frequently the film of Rashomon. Criterion's excellent restoration and commentary are well worth acquisition and stand up under repeated viewing of their DVD (as they choose among HDTV formats). Please notice here the orignal stories (also included in the Criterion package with different translator- a crucial point of departure) and the transfer of titles.

A great book for a quiet day. A great book for mass transport if you can focus in silence. I cannot destroy the tales by a clumsy attempt at summary. REpeated reading is rewarded by more profound understanding, just as walking through a village every day for a year will finally grant some slight perception of its realities and rhythms. I wish these were available on audio book as my over-worn eyes fade in to the gloom.

3-0 out of 5 stars Rashōmon
I bought the new Penguin Classic, Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Japanese author, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927), with the intention of furthering my knowledge of Japanese fiction and its writers beyond Mishima and the spaghetti obsessed Murakami. What I found in this collection is an interesting mix of stories providing an adequate introduction to Akutagawa, but not enough, perhaps, to interest me further.

Preceded by a foreward by the aforementioned Haruki Murakami, the collection is split into four parts by translator Jay Rubin. This division is to differentiate the works between different parts of the author's short life much like Picasso's output can be pigeonholed into such periods as blue and rose. So, we have his early retelling of Japanese legends and anecdotes through to conflicts between native religion and Christianity missionaries, on to modern works highlighting both tragic and comic circumstances, before reaching his biographical work in which he showcased his own madness.

For me, the earlier stories of Akutagawa proved more interesting. Rashōmon, which provided the title for Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film, is followed by In A Bamboo Grove, the story upon which the film was based. The Nose, a comic tale of vanity, is followed by the great Dragon: A Potter's Tale, which in turn is followed by the wonderful, albeit predictable, Hell Screen, a story about an artist who requires to see his subject matter so that he may capture it on canvas; thus, when commissioned to paint Hell, he sets about having his vision of Hell recreated before him so that he may recreate it with measured strokes.

Of the later stories there are few standouts, although that may just be my preference for stories set in a highly romanticised medieval Japan than in a period (the 1920s) in which I know little of the nation. The stereotypical legends of samurai, peasants, and overlords sit far more comfortably with me than a beautiful history deeply influenced by western imports. One of the better stories is Horse Legs, a Kafkaesque tale in which a Japanese Gregor Samsa wakes to find that he has equine legs, complete with hooves, and there follows comic situations as he attempts to hide his secret from everyone, notably the wife whom he shares his bed. The Writer's Craft was another story that sat well with me, a tale about how the appreciation of an author's work is not determined by the time put in but by how others interpret it within their own lives.

The collection gathers together a blend of Akutagawa's well known short pieces in addition to a bunch of stories translated to English for the first time. While some of these freshly translated stories appealed, I couldn't help feel it was a cynical attempt to force a few new tales on those already initiated with the author's work: one story, for example, is just a fragment of a longer unfinished piece.

Akutagawa's writing, at least in translation, is certainly vibrant and his stories come at you from all manner of narrators, the most common seeming to be told from the point of view of someone who witnessed the events but was not integral to the plot. Later stories, such as The Life Of A Stupid Man, show interesting attempts at style but the narrative (a series of numbered paragraphs with individual titles) is so personal that it would seem to be only of interest to friends and family of the author, in addition to Akutagawa scholars.

All in, this book serves to give me an introduction to the author and, with the extensive footnotes, a further understanding of different periods in Japan's history. But, given my indifference to many of the stories, especially Akutagawa's more personal pieces, I doubt I'll go in search of his previously translated works, although the occasional retelling of previous Japanese tales may be enough to pique my interest in much the same way a cookie may keep me satisfied until teatime. ... Read more

6. Akutagawa and Dazai: Instances of Literary Adaptation (Arizona State University Center for Asian Studies monograph series)
 Paperback: 149 Pages (1988-08)
list price: US$10.00
Isbn: 093925218X
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Book Description
Akutagawa Ryûnosuke (1892-1927) is a key figure in modern Japanese literature. He is renowned for the intellectual play and superb craft of his numerous tales. Dazai Osamu (1909-1948) was the most distinctive writer to emerge from wartime Japan. His passion and brilliance combined to create a uniquely gifted storyteller. This rich selection of tales illustrates the range of their talents, and illuminates the similarities and differences between these great writers. Translator James O'Brien, an expert in the work of Akutagawa and Dazai, provides an incisive introduction to both writers. Published by the Center for Asian Studies, Arizona State University, in association with Kurodahan Press ... Read more

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