Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories

320 pages

English language

Published Oct. 30, 2006 by Penguin Classics.

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4 stars (14 reviews)

Ryünosuke 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. 'Rashömon' 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.

2 editions

Review of 'Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)' on 'Storygraph'

3 stars

I haven't read much from Japanese authors, only a novel by Natsume Soseki and a few short stories by Haruki Murakami. Oddly enough, both of these authors came into this book as well, Murakami having written the introduction, and Soseki having been an acquaintance of Akutagawa's, as we learn in the later set of stories, which are autobiographical.
I enjoyed reading the first set of stories, which were retellings of Japanese folk stories. It was a look into a culture which I find very interesting, rich, and old, though I found it easier to continue as I continued father into the book.
The second set of stories in Rashomon are autobiographical pieces by Akutagawa and paint a portrait of a man increasingly aware of his past and present and apprehensive about his future. I found it helpful to have read the introduction beforehand, so I had a better picture of …


  • Akutagawa, Ryūnosuke, -- 1892-1927 -- Translations into English