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Rashomon and Seventeen other Stories

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  4,278 Ratings  ·  231 Reviews
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.

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 B
Paperback, 268 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Penguin Classics (first published 1927)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nandakishore Varma
For a person drunk on the film society culture prevalent in Kerala during the Seventies and Eighties, "Rashomon" is a magic word.

Akira Kurasowa’s film enjoys cult status among movie buffs. It is rivetting in its presentation of “truth” in many layers, presented as a conversation among three people: a woodcutter, a priest and a commoner who take shelter under the ramshackle Rashomon city gates to escape a downpour. The story is the death (murder?) of a man, the rape (?) of a woman and the capture
Jan 07, 2014 Kimley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously the difficulty of rating collections of stories is the fact that they don't necessarily all rate equally. About a third of these stories are easily knock-out 5-star fantastic. The other two-thirds I'd rate mostly 4 stars with a few 3 stars. All worth reading and in general I think this is probably a good intro to Akutagawa's work in that it contains a nice cross-section of his work from the earliest historical stories to his later primarily autobiographical stories.

I personally preferr
Dec 26, 2015 Taka rated it liked it
Good, but...

Yes. I did it. I've committed one of the ultimate literary sacrileges of all time. I read Akutagawa Ryunosuke in translation when I could have read it in original Japanese. I am guilty as charged. I just couldn't resist a book with such a cool cover and Murakami's introduction plus his trusted Jay Rubin doing the translation.

Having said that, I did read it along with the actual Japanese text in front of me to see how well Jay Rubin has grappled with difficult early 19th-century Jap
Jan 08, 2014 Praj rated it really liked it
Akutagawa known as the “Father of Japanese short stories” stays true to his designation with this collection of metaphysically refined stories. The rendered stories: - The Grove, Yam Gruel, Rashomon, Martyr to name a few; highlights Akutagawa’s preference for macabre themes of immortality, depression, virtue, chaos and death. These stories encompass a constant battle of skepticism prevailing over virtue of morality v/s existence of evil.

In Rashomon, the act of the ghoulish old woman picking ou
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
When I read my first Murakami, a compilation of short stories called "After the Quake," I was amazed by his refreshing originality. Some of his stories, indeed, had the effect of an earthquake to me. There were jolting, sudden and unexpected turns. In one, a man and a woman, after a brief introduction, make love. Then, out of nowhere, the man felt a sudden impulse to kill her. In another story, the characters were on a beach. Tears suddenly flow down from the eyes of one character, then they ...more
Jun 15, 2015 umberto rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
Reading Ryunosuke Akutakawa's "Hell Screen" is like reading Edgar Allan Poe. However, "Rashomon" here was merely the inception of the 1950 film directed by Akira Kurosawa since, according to the Translator's Note, the director used only the first two short stories (Rashomon & In a Bamboo Grove) and Shinobu Hashimoto helped him rewrite the whole screenplay.
I'm sorry I've never seen the film before, however, some 40 years ago I read its screenplay in Thai. Therefore, it's interesting to find i
Madhulika Liddle
It’s hard to review something like Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories: it’s too complex, too often inducing a “What was that I read?”, too deep, and yet approachable, very readable.

I found this book by chance while surfing Goodreads, and was immediately attracted by Rashōmon, since I am a fan of Kurosawa’s, and am all admiration for that particular film (the plot of which, ironically, draws more from Akutagawa’s In the Bamboo Grove than it does from Rashōmon itself).
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜

I never though I could find myself this immersed in a book before and finish it this quickly. The last time I finished a long book this quickly was 4-5 years ago when I read Jonathan Stroud's "The Amulet of Samarkand" in one night. This was a good book to start reading the night of my birthday. What a real treat indeed!

I was expecting to finish this AFTER "A Man of All Seasons", which I was already over halfway done with and I got there from only two days worth of reading...but
aPriL does feral sometimes
The interpreted stories included in this collection reflect an intelligence that is well-read, perceptive and deeply aware of human foibles. Through the language of ancient Eastern folk tales, half of the short stories are entertaining and revealing. The author writes in the years of 1915 to 1925, in Japan, using Chinese and Japanese literary and cultural themes that not only educate the reader in Eastern literature, but also demonstrate that humanity is the same whether living in the East or ...more
Oct 09, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-red-circle
In his (undated ... perhaps 2006?) introduction, Haruki Murakami gives us what he thinks would be Japan's 10 most important "writers of national stature". They are writers that "left us works of the first rank that vividly reflect the mentality of the Japanese people ... [the works] must have the power to survive at least a quarter century after the writer's death. ... The important thing is whether each of them as an individual human being embraced an awareness of the great questions of the ...more
Apr 22, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm a big fan of the movie. The title story, interestingly, is not the same as the movie. Well, at least most of it. It's the following story in the collection, "In a Bamboo Grove," that Kurosawa based his masterpiece on. It's a good story, but not, by far, the best in the collection. (The title story "Rashomon," which precedes "Bamboo Grove" is one blackest stories I've ever read.) It's one of those rare instances where the movie is better than the story it's based on. It's not that the story ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Rhys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first Akutagawa story I ever read was ‘Sennin’, the first story in the Borges edited anthology *The Book of Fantasy*, and I was impressed with its quirky and ironic flavour. I resolved to seek out more Akutagawa, so I was delighted when I chanced on this Penguin Classics volume containing eighteen of his tales.

It’s a retrospective of his entire life’s work (he died when he was only thirty five) and divided into four sections.

The first section is devoted to his early stories. ‘Rashomon’ is th
Jun 17, 2008 Yulia rated it liked it
Recommended to Yulia by: Bibliomantic
Hmm, these stories are so unlike what I'm used to expecting shorts to be like. They're like folklore or legends. It's quite impressive to think a once-living man could have created such timeless stories. Don't such narratives take centuries to shape, passed from one generation to the next by old women making yarn or silk thread?


I'm not sure whether to be amused or annoyed that Murakami gives Akutagawa such grudging praise in his introduct
May 10, 2015 Faisal rated it it was amazing

من التهاون أن يتم استحضار أسماء رواد القصة القصيرة في الأدب العالمي، من غير أن يُذكر اسم ريونوسوكي أكوتاجاوا كرائد في هذا الجنس الأدبي. فإن كان لروسيا أن تحتفي بتشيخوف، ولإنجلترا بإدغار، ولفرنسا بموباسان، فلليابان أن تفخر كل الفخر بريونوسوكي أكوتاجاوا، كواحد من عباقرة هذا المجال.

أسلوب ريونوسوكي يتّسم بالهدوء. صوته الروائي يشبه طنين الصمت. فعندما يصف الجحيم البوذي، يفعلها وكأنه يصف حديقة منزله. ويصوّر سقوط الرأس المقطوع عن الجسد، كأنه يصوّر سقوط الملعقة من على الطاولة. يتحدّث ببساطة عن كل ما قد
Parrish Lantern
Apr 07, 2012 Parrish Lantern rated it it was amazing

Rashomon & 17 other stories

Ryunosuke Akutugawa is generally regarded as the "father of the Japanese short story" of which he wrote approximately a hundred, before taking his own life at the age of 35, he also has Japan's most famous Literary prize named after him (Akutagawa Prize) . Born in Tokyo in 1892 & raised by a family steeped in traditional Japanese culture, by a young age had mastered English, before going on to excel as a student in his country's top educational establishments
Vanessa Wu
Feb 04, 2012 Vanessa Wu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first started writing book reviews and posting them to my blog I really didn't care what I wrote. I never spent more than 10 minutes on any of them. I just wanted my name to be posted on the internet every day. The point was to publicise my stories, into which I poured my heart and soul.

Then something terrible happened. People began to read my reviews. Not just any old people. Experts.

I've had Chinese literary experts. Sex experts. Hard-boiled fiction experts. There's an expert Haiku prac
Joe Cummings
Jan 21, 2015 Joe Cummings rated it it was amazing
Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories is the 2006 volume of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa that have been collected and translated by Jay Rubin. Film buffs will recognize Rashomon as the title of a film by Kurosawa. The great Japanese film director lifted the title of one of the stories, but the screenplay is also based on the tale In a Bamboo Grove which is also included. In fact, this collection has selections written throughout his entire career. Sadly, however, Akutagawa's life was cu ...more
Sarah Echo
Jun 30, 2015 Sarah Echo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Robert Beveridge
Oct 09, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
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 th
Oct 24, 2016 Miri rated it really liked it
This was gorgeous. I can't believe how closely I relate with the autobiographical stories. "Spinning Gears," especially the ending, was amazing—sort of hauntingly visual—it almost felt like a movie. I'm not sure why I'm giving it four stars instead of five, but I'll go with that for now.

Many are the criticisms that have been leveled at me, but they fall into three groups:

1. Bookish. A "bookish" person is one who prizes the power of the mind over the power of the flesh.
2. Frivolous. A "frivolous"
The story Rashomon itself is beautifully simple, as is the follow-up story, which was the basis for the much better-known (in the West, at least) film. The collection started strong.

Akutagawa lost me with his deeply involved historical tales. Not only did I feel one needed a more thorough knowledge of the culture and history to get them, it's just naturally hard for me to connect to stories that are set in a realm of existence not only so different from me, but embedded within and defined by a s
Tracy Lynch
Jan 11, 2015 Tracy Lynch rated it liked it
This was my son Thomas' recommendation which I knew would challenge me as much of his reading material is quite obscure and different to mine entirely. However, I intend to challenge myself intensely this year with my choice of books and not opt for the easy read. Despite my initial 'Thomas! What on earth is this' thoughts, I soon found myself caught up in the short but interesting stories. The themes of the stories deal with human emotions in a frank, honest manner and I found the issues to be ...more
Apr 23, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of short stories ranging from historical to autobiographical opening with the two stories that inspired Kurosawa's film, Rashōmon and In a Bamboo Grove. Very good translation and notes by Jay Rubin (approximately half the stories are Bing published in English for the first time) and an introduction by Haruki Murakami.

So sad that Akutagawa ended his life so early. What would he have made of Japan in the 1930s, 40s, and beyond?
Jul 07, 2013 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is a collection of ryōnsuke akutagawa's short stories of which he is well known for writing and also a huge reflection of his life as along with the pages progressing you gradually see more elements of his life progressing and you find out more about the famous "Akutagawa"

I found this book so incredible and thought provoking that I may read it countless times to come.
Sep 05, 2016 latner3 rated it liked it

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to find yourself in a dark room in Japan with an old woman pulling the hair out of a corpse to make a wig. Wonder no more.

Seriously the stories are good and they reflect a troubled mind. He committed suicide aged 35.

A good read.
Mar 11, 2008 Yuval marked it as excerpts-read
I've gone through a number of these stories now and enjoyed each one tremendously; he comes across to me a lot like the proto-absurd, tragicomic Japanese Gogol (but maybe it's Akutagawa's own "Nose" that makes me think so). I didn't get to all of the stories in this edition but hope to dip back into it in the future.
I'm not going to be rushing through these stories so I will edit this review as I read more of them.

25/12: Rashomon
This story was only a few pages long but I really enjoyed it. It was a great one to start with, as it drew me in instantly. I love the way it's written - the flow to the sentences is beautiful, especially with its descriptions. It was an intriguing and enjoyable read.
Oct 21, 2015 Shosh-89 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"to go on living with this feeling is painful beyond description. isn't there someone kind enough to strangle me in my sleep?"

what can i say about akutagawa beauty beyond description i guess. however, i must admit that what took my breath away with its details and emotions was Hell Screen i felt emotions i shall never forget.
Nov 16, 2015 Ciel rated it it was amazing
Now, if contemporary Japanese litterateurs wrote like Akutagawa, I would be in joy. By far his works have the best and most creative storytelling I've ever read.
Tanya (aka ListObsessedReader)
Probably more like 3.5 stars but rounding up. I loved some of these stories, others not quite so much, but all in all a really enjoyable collection.

Read during Japanese June.
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Best story in the collection? 9 76 Dec 20, 2013 12:57AM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week One - In a Grove/Rashomon 39 462 May 12, 2012 07:47AM  
Brain Pain: * CH1 - In a Grove/Rashomon - Schedule/Questions/Resources 57 74 May 05, 2012 09:31AM  
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AKUTAGAWA Ryūnosuke (芥川 龍之介) was one of the first prewar Japanese writers to achieve a wide foreign readership, partly because of his technical virtuosity, partly because his work seemed to represent imaginative fiction as opposed to the mundane accounts of the I-novelists of the time, partly because of his brilliant joining of traditional material to a modern sensibility, and partly because of fi ...more
More about Ryūnosuke Akutagawa...

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“It is unfortunate for the gods that, unlike us, they cannot commit suicide.” 44 likes
“Yes -- or rather, it's not so much that I want to die as that I'm tired of living.” 29 likes
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