Ryunosuke Akutagawa

“Ryunosuke Akutagawa: (1892-1927) Japanese short-story writer. Akutagawa’s skill in the short story led to the 1935 special prize in his name for aspiring writers. Known for taking forgotten tales from medieval collections and imbuing them with a modern psychology, Akutagawa’s stories are often eerie and bizarre yet frighteningly realistic. His best-known stories, ‘Yabu no naka’ (1922; tr ‘In a Grove,’ 1952) and ‘Rashomon‘ (1915; tr 1952), inspired Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon. Akutagawa excelled at exploring the dark and twisted channels of the human spirit, but his later autobiographical works reveal the darkening despair such exploration invited. Akutagawa committed suicide in 1927. Among his autobiographical works are ‘Aru aho no issho’ (1927; tr ‘A Fool’s Life,’ 1970) and his posthumous ‘Haguruma’ (1927; tr ‘Cogwheels,’ 1982).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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