Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories
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Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  4,301 ratings  ·  262 reviews
These purple sparks...he would trade his life for the chance to hold them in his hands

Akutagawa (1982-1927) was one of Japan's foremost stylists - a modernist master whose stories are marked by original imagery, cynicism, beauty and wild humour. Rashōmon and In a Bamboo Grove inspired Kurosawa's magnificent film and depict a past in which morality is inverted, while tales...more
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Published (first published 1914)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Here is the answer to the obvious question, which I call obvious because of the fact that I thought it, s. commented below asking about it, and my guess is that more will come. So, let me clarify...umm, sort of.

It's a little confusing, actually. The Akutagawa story In a Grove, which is in this particular Akutagawa collection, was the basis for the Kurosawa film Rashōmon. The Akutagawa story Rashōmon--which is also in this collection and by the same author, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa--shares no similari...more
Kimley
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...more
Praj
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...more
Taka
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; there is no question about it. I just couldn't resist a book with such a cool cover and Murakami's introduction plus his trusted Jay Rubin doing the translation. I just had to buy it.

Having said that, I did read it along with the actual Japanese text in front of me to see how well Jay Rub...more
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 tal...more
Zanna
First read in 2007

In his characteristically measured, conversational introduction to this book, Murakami Haruki tells us that Akutagawa is his third favourite author in the modern (post 1868) Japanese canon (after Soseki and Tanizaki). Rather than giddily enthusing about the author, Murakami carefully contextualises him in Japanese literature and culture. Akutagawa lived during a brief period of prosperity and political liberalism between WWI and the Depression in 1929, and combined appreciative...more
Traveller
I think I somehow missed the point of the Yam gruel story. I found the Rashomon story rather cruel and unsympathetic. I think I'll reserve judgment until after we've discussed these in our Brain Pain group.

Something that I definitely did notice, is that quite a bit of the original seems to be lost in translation, which might be partly the fault of the translator, but almost definitely also due to the fact that English and Japanese are two languages that seem to be difficult to translate mutually...more
Hadrian
If you're a fan of Japanese cinema, you will recognize one of Kurosawa's movies from the title. However, the movie is a pastiche of two short stories - the eponymous Rashomon set at the gate in Kyoto, and "In A Grove", a murder mystery from multiple perspectives.

This collection of six Akutagawa stories is deeply observant and some wry observation about human nature, or some criticism of an institution. "Kesa and Morito" is like "The Gift of the Magi", except with murder. These works are deeply...more
umberto
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...more
Rise

Consider the first story. A Police Commissioner interviews seven individuals regarding an alleged crime of murder:


- The first witness is a woodcutter who discovered the body of the dead man;

- the second witness is a travelling Buddhist priest who met the man and his wife prior to the incident;

- the third witness is a policeman who arrested the only suspect to the alleged crime;

- the fourth, an old woman, the dead man’s mother-in-law;

- the fifth is the bandit who confessed to the crime;

- the sixt...more
David
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 age...more
Niran Pravithana
ในบรรดานักเขียนญี่ปุ่นทุกคนที่ผมเคยอ่าน ผมนับว่าริวโนสุเกะ อาคุตะกะวะเป็นอัจฉริยะในหมู่อัจฉริยะ
แต่ไม่ใช่ว่าคนทุกคนจะชอบสไตล์งานเขียนของอาคุตะกาว่า เพราะสไตล์เรื่องสั้นของเขาหลายครั้งเป็นงานเขียนที่ดึงเอาด้านมืดของจิตใจมนุษย์มาโยนใส่หน้าคนอ่านแบบไม่มีการประณีประนอม สร้าง ethical paradox พร้อมเปิดช่องให้ผู้อ่านตีความบทประพันธ์เอาเอง ซึ่งจะพบได้ในเรื่องสั้นหลายเรื่องของหนังสือเล่มนี้ (ในป่าละเมาะ, ฉากนรก)
(ผมคิดเอาเองว่าแนวการเขียนรูปแบบนี้เป็นเหมือนรากของงานเขียนในยุคหลังๆ จำพวก postmodernism ที่ผู...more
Mona
First, I am a big fan of Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

Second, Akutagawa himself has been acknowledged as one of the greatest Japanese writers.

Third, the story "Rashomon" has been admitted as the best story Akutagawa ever wrote. That's why Akira Kurosawa transfered the story into reel.

So, none other reason needed to make you read this one.
Tfitoby
They say Akutagawa is a master of modern Japanese literature despite writing just after the turn of the 20th century, he even has major literary awards named after him in Japan but I can't help but feel that 100 year old stories are not that modern. That being said his stories are largely enjoyable and very well written.

The effect of the unique storytelling point of view of In A Grove is really quite remarkable and the rest of the stories collected here all manage to conjure up a firm and believ...more
Helmut
Geistergeschichten ohne Geister
In jeder Rezension hier und sonstwo, im Klappentext, im Nachwort, überall: Der Hinweis auf den Film. Und gleich darauf die Anmerkung, dass die hier abgedruckte Geschichte und der Film völlig verschieden sind. Letztlich ist das wieder die Tragik des Erfolgs - viele Schriftsteller würden sich wohl die Finger lecken nach der Chance, eine Story von einem so großen Meister verfilmt zu sehen. Doch irgendwann kommt dann die Zeit, wie hier, in der man sich nur noch an den...more
Yulia
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...more
Faisal AlHebainy
مقتطف من ما كتبته عن أكوتاجاوا وهذا الكتاب على موقع آراء:

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 يصوّ...more
marie
I read two from a collection of Akutagawa's short stories: "Rashomon" and "In A Bamboo Grove". My first reaction was: he's so modern! The 2 stories are like thrillers, suspenseful, with unexpected twists. "In A Bamboo Grove" is a sophisticated story of an event seen from different perspectives. The reader is forced to think what the most plausible narrative is as the truth is left hanging ----there is nothing cut-and dried here.

The author's story is almost as fascinating as his 2 short stories,...more
Nandakishore Varma
Excellent read. See review on my BLOG .
Parrish Lantern







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...more
aPriL purrs 'n hisses
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 We...more
Robert Beveridge
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...more
Rhys
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...more
Andrew
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...more
Nikola Korbuc
Quite an interesting tale, I must say. It portrays a man who has a choice between life and death. Death is linked with honor and pride, while choosing to live means resorting to thievery and deeds deemed dishonorable. At first, the man is torn between these two choices. After meeting the old woman tearing hair from corpses, he feels disdain and hatred. However, after hearing her tale, his view suddenly changes, causing in him that which I would call the "Lucifer Effect". He understands his predi...more
Clint
The first two stories, "In a Grove" and "Rashomon" I really liked, though "Rashomon" was a little too open-ended for my taste, as was most of the rest of the book. I've read one other Akutagawa book, and kind of felt the same about it, he's very strange. Not like surrealist strange, but "I can't figure out why he would write about this, or stop writing about this at this particular point" strange. The last story, "The Dragon," was excellent. Now that I know where a Japanese library is and I can...more
Samuel Muggington
I just finished a book of short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. This Japanese author committed suicide in 1927 after writing hundreds of poems and stories. Some of his stories are so haunting that the images will be seared into your brain forever. Rashomon is one of these. It is almost as if the author is an omnipotent being hovering over the scenes providing a running commentary on medieval Japanese life. After reading this slim volume, I do have one imperative. I must try some yam gruel.
Jorge
Ladrones de cuerpos en un templo abandonado lleno de cadáveres, un hombre que debe contemplar torturas reales para pintar el infierno, un hombre sabio con una gran nariz, una muerte en que tres personas distintas se inculpan a sí mismas… Estos son algunas de las situaciones que trabaja Ryunosuke Akutagawa en esta breve colección de cuentos ambientados todos en el Japón feudal. La mitología y leyendas japonesas se entremezclan con una visión neorrealista del mundo: el convencimiento de que la ver...more
Ryan
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.
Jacob
Rashomon and Other Stories is a smattering of short stories that vary in tone and strength.

The collection starts of relatively strong with In The Grove and Rashomon, the two stories that inspired Kurosawa's masterpiece Rashomon. In The Grove plays with the perspective and Rashomon grapples, whoever briefly, with the nature of morality and it's crumbling in the face of suffering.

From there...things pretty much go to hell. Yam Gruel is a effectively a story chastising humanity for daring to look...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Best story in the collection? 9 66 Dec 20, 2013 12:57AM  
Brain Pain: Discussion - Week One - In a Grove/Rashomon 39 237 May 12, 2012 07:47AM  
Brain Pain: * CH1 - In a Grove/Rashomon - Schedule/Questions/Resources 57 62 May 05, 2012 09:31AM  
  • Seven Japanese Tales
  • Tales of Moonlight and Rain
  • The Setting Sun
  • Sanshirō
  • Thousand Cranes
  • Japanese Gothic Tales
  • The Wild Geese
  • The Hunting Gun
  • Black Rain
  • Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: Four Short Novels
  • The Face of Another
  • Death in Midsummer and Other Stories
  • The Paper Door and Other Stories by Shiga Naoya
  • Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things
  • The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories
5775185
Akutagawa Ryūnosuke or Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (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, an...more
More about Ryūnosuke Akutagawa...
Kappa In a Grove Rashomon Hell Screen The Spider's Thread

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“A man sometimes devotes his life to a desire which he is not sure will ever be fulfilled. Those who laugh at this folly are, after all, no more than mere spectators of life.” 979 likes
“Yes -- or rather, it's not so much that I want to die as that I'm tired of living.” 17 likes
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