羅生門 [Rashōmon]

羅生門 [Rashōmon] This Collection Features A Brilliant New Translation Of The Japanese Master S Stories, From The Source For The Movie Rash Mon To His Later, Autobiographical WritingsRy Nosuke Akutagawa Is One Of Japan S Foremost Stylists A Modernist Master Whose Short Stories Are Marked By Highly Original Imagery, Cynicism, Beauty And Wild Humour Rash Mon 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 StoriesA WORLD IN DECAY Rash Mon In A Bamboo Grove The Nose Dragon The Old Potter S Tale The Spider Thread Hell ScreenUNDER THE SWORD Dr Ogata Ry Sai Memorandum O Gin LoyaltyMODERN TRAGICOMEDY The Story Of A Head That Fell Off Green Onions Horse LegsAKUTAGAWA S OWN STORY Daid Ji Shinsuke The Early Years The Writer S Craft The Baby S Sickness Death Register The Life Of A Stupid Man Spinning Gears

Akutagawa Ry nosuke 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

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  • Paperback
  • 268 pages
  • 羅生門 [Rashōmon]
  • Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
  • English
  • 14 November 2018
  • 9780143039846

10 thoughts on “羅生門 [Rashōmon]

  1. says:

    One night I woke in the dark hours no longer able to sleep After a while I accepted my semi wakeful state and found my way to the sofa There I settled under a blanket and flicked ideally through the TV channels, eventually I happened upon a film Ghost Dog, not apparently to be confused with Moondog view spoiler although to my mind ghost dogs and moondogs must be much of a muchness, no hide spoiler

  2. says:

    In fulfillment of his longstanding dream, he became the author of several books But what he got in return was a desolate loneliness This collection offers a piercing insight into the stunning yet troubled mind of Ry nosuke Akutagawa A writer brought to the world by a madwoman, he was a well known insomniac, a drug addict, a guilt plagued sinner, yet he produced such beautiful works while hounded by the looming shadows of his inevitable insanity This masterwork can be adequately divided into three parts the first part A World in Decay Under the Sword are vivid myth like stories set during the Heian, Kamakura, and other pre war eras of Japan From the titular story of an encounter under the Rash mon a gate built as a monument in the southern entrance of Kyoto to the story of a painter who perfectly depicted the fury of hell into a screen, the first few stories present such beautiful and breath taking pictures of early Japan in all its splendor with its unique culture and oriental beliefs in full display The second part Modern Tragicomedy are surrealistic stories set during Akutagawa s lifetime towards the dusk of the Meija era and the early smoldering of the Taisho These haunting yet humorous stories reflect the slowly decaying psyche of Akutagawa as his fears and nerves start to take hold of his pen And the last part Akutagawa s Own Story are his final manuscripts towards the end of his life when all he could muster to craft were words formed by his horrors and his painful loneliness In one of its few bright spots he writes, In my savage joy, I felt as if I had no parents, no wife, no children, just the life that flowed forth from my pen But these last few remnants of thought from this gifted storyteller evoke mostly the sorrowful darkness of a mind in despair whose only solace was literature The different eras of Japan were his canvas, his brushstrokes his blood, wrung out unbearably, drop by drop, till he had none to bleed I don t have the strength to keep writing this To go on living with this feeling is painful beyond description Isn t there someone kind enough to strangle me in my sleep What initially was a beautiful and elegant collection morphed into an outpouring of literary agony towards the end In this regard it is like a Chimera, a two fold beast, formed by the fictional beauty of Akutagawa s tales and the painful terrors of his grotesque reality.

  3. says:

    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 of a bandit responsible for both as the story unfolds, the differences in the widely varying testimonies of the people involved force us to have a rethink on what truth means.I had heard about this movie a lot before actually seeing it and it lived up to its hype and when I finally got around to seeing it But this review is not about the movie It is about the magical short story which was its inspiration and other stories like it, penned by one of the great figures of Japanese literatures, the turn of the century novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa.When I first saw the movie, I was so taken up by the sheer visual beauty of Kurasowa s storytelling that I did not ruminate much on what this movie was based on, even though I saw the based on title in the beginning It was only after joining Goodreads that I came to know about this book, and was immediately hungry for it Having read it, it has left me hungry for by the same author, and Japanese literature in general It is so shattering in its impact on the intellect, even in translation I cannot imagine how powerful it must be in the original Japanaese for, as Haruki Murakami says in the introduction, the translation can never capture the power of the original.Akutagawa is a tragic figure His mother went mad shortly after his birth, and he was raised by his childless maternal uncle and aunt Even though they were a highly cultured family and young Ryunosuke was lucky to have a childhood exposed to a lot of intellectual pleasures, he was constantly plagued by ill health and bullying in school His ill health continued into youth he suffered from chronic insomnia and fears of madness The misfortunes of family and country also distressed his oversensitive soul to an inordinate extent Until finally, on 24 July 1927, Ryunosuke Akutagawa committed suicide by an overdose of Veronal.The author s gifted and tortured soul is visible throughout this amazing collection of stories It is divided into four sections 1 A World in Decay, 2 Under the Sword, 3 Modern Tragicomedy and 4 Akutagawa s Own Story These sections correspond to four periods of Japanese history as well as four creative styles which took birth from Akutagawa s fertile imagination.In the first section, stories most of them retelling of old legends set in the Heian Period A.C.E 794 1185 are included This was Japan s classical era a time of peace, prosperity and opulence when art and culture flourished But as is common with most ancient kingdoms, it declined and power slipped from the hands of the aristocrats into the hands of the warlords It is this twilight period that Akutagawa uses as a backdrop for his stories of degeneration and decay The title story of the collection, Rashomon, encapsulates the entire misery of the country in the symbol of the gate of the capital city of Kyoto The city having been struck by one calamity after another, the author says With the whole city in such turmoil, no one bothered to maintain the Rashomon Foxes and badgers came to live in the dilapidated structure, and they were soon joined by thieves Finally, it became the custom to abandon unclaimed corpses in the upper storey of the gate, which made the neighbourhood an eerie place that everyone avoided after the sun went down.The stage is thus perfectly set for a set of disturbing stories Rashomon narrates the story of a jobless servant who is sheltering from the rain inside the gate and an old woman, who steals hair from the corpses lying there to sell to wig makers, justifying it by pointing out that the dead people were also thieves and cheaters Ultimately, she inspires the servant to become a thief himself who starts off on his new career by stealing her clothes In a Bamboo Grove, one of the most extraordinary stories ever written this was the inspiration for Kurasowa s film, even though he used the Rashomon gate as a symbol of the decay he was portraying narrates story of a dead warrior, a thief and a raped woman from the viewpoint of each of the protagonists Each of the stories is different and equally believable from the evidence available at the scene of the crime and the statements of the witnesses Who we believe will depend a lot on who we are.But the story which impressed me most in the whole volume is Hell Screen This gem of a novelette gives us a taste of horror, Japanese style I could understand how movies like Dark Water, The Ring and The Grudge came into being The tale of the deformed artist Yoshihide nicknamed Monkeyhide because of his deformity , the tapestry of hell he paints for the Lord Horikawa, the artist s daughter who is a serving girl at the Lord s mansion and the pet monkey has all the elements of a medieval ghost story and a gothic romance However, it is Akutagawa s narrative style whereby he leaves a lot unsaid and his choice of the narrative voice that of an unnamed member of the Lord s retinue that are masterful The story is a one way ride into darkness.In the second section, we move forward to the Tokugawa Shogunate A.C.E 1600 1868 This was the last feudal military government of Japan During this period, the shogun elders of the Tokugawa clan ruled from Edo Castle As Jay Rubin, the translator, says, the Tokugawa centralised feudalism imposed the principle of joint responsibility on all parts of society, punishing whole families, entire villages, or professional guilds for the infractions of individual members This fostered a culture based on mutual spying, which promoted a mentality of constant vigilance and self censorship In the story Loyalty, the disastrous effects of the madness of a samurai on an entire dynasty is described in this merciless world, it does not mean just the destruction of a person, but of a whole bloodline The other two stories included describe the clash between Christianity and Japan s traditional religions These distressing tales are rendered with much empathy and wit.In the third section we find a sarcastic Akutagawa, full of black humour The Story of the Head that Fell Off and Horse Legs use the trappings of fantasy to create a sort of darkly comic tale In Green Onions, we can see an author smiling at himself and his fellow scribes, in a pastiche of a romantic tale.There is a whole tradition of autobiographical writing in Japan, called I Novels , where the author s life itself is fictionalised Even though Akutagawa initially stayed away from this genre, he finally succumbed to peer and critic pressure and started writing such stories It is here that one can see a fine mind finally unravelling There are hints of this in the first three stories, especially in The Writer s Craft where an author is forced write an elegy for somebody whom he barely knows just on the strength of his writing talent This sense of unease is increased in Death Register where he tabulates the demise of friends and relatives and in The Diary of a Stupid Man and Spinning Gears where Akutagawa keeps on hallucinating spinning gears on one side of his vision , we sense that we are standing on the edge of a minefield Spinning Gears was published posthumously This is a well chosen set of stories, with a fantastic introduction by Haruki Murakami There are explanations about the historical periods, and background information on each story The timeline of Akutagawa s life is also provided The book satisfies one, not only literally, but also as a window to Japanese literature.Highly recommended.Review also posted on my BLOG.

  4. says:

    Note on Japanese Name Order and PronunciationAcknowledgmentsChronology NotesIntroduction Akutagawa Ry nosuke Downfall of the Chosen, by Murakami HarukiFurther ReadingTranslator s Note A World in Decay Rash mon In a Bamboo Grove The Nose Dragon The Old Potter s Tale The Spider Thread Hell Screen Under the Sword Dr Ogata Ry sai Memorandum O Gin Loyalty Modern Tragicomedy The Story of a Head That Fell Off Green Onions Horse Legs Akutagawa s Own Story Daid ji Shinsuke The Early Years The Writer s Craft The Baby s Sickness Death Register The Life of a Stupid Man Spinning Gears Notes

  5. says:

    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 Japanese and rendered it into English And the result was somewhat disappointing I think he does a good job translating Murakami s works, but here with Akutagawa, he pretty much butchers most of his early stories that take place in medieval Japan which stories, by the way, are usually extolled as his masterpieces The original Japanese is, of course, in medieval Japanese, and it is quite different from modern Japanese but not as different as modern English to Chaucer s middle English But Mr Rubin sometimes translates conversations into highly colloquial English, and that just doesn t work with Akutagawa s early stories.The Japanese language still today and even so back in the day is a very polite language, which logically makes it a very vague language as well, where curse words don t really exist and you say things in a very roundabout way And to render this into modern colloquial English is like equivalent to rendering Shakespeare into today s slang with an abundance of F and N and other such words Now from a reader s point of view, Mr Rubin s translation is very readable Very It could have, however, been a lot conservative on the use of colloquialism and slang without compromising its readability For example, in one of the scenes, a lord tells his trusted servant to kill someone, and the original reads or less, Kill that man, that Rin emon, which Mr Rubin translates as Kill that bastard Alright This does show the degree to which this guy is mad in fact crazy , but I m sorry, that just doesn t work The word bastard is just way too much of a bad word for someone like a lord himself could utter and I don t think there was an equivalent in medieval Japanese I do recognize the difficulty since the Japanese here is very very subtle The meaning is close to bastard, but a LOT less blatant than what the English word conveys In many many instances Mr Rubin resorts to colloquial English that sounds too jarring to a Japanese ear when compared to the subtle nuances and beauty of the original Japanese But that s just me, who is fortunate enough to be able to read both Japanese and English with or less equal fluency So as far as the translation is concerned, hats off to Mr Rubin for making Akutagawa s stories easily available for the English speaking public, but as an artistic work, it could have done much better by avoiding too much colloquialism and using formal and even a bit archaic English to better convey the original voice of the text.W r t the stories, they are really good I d even say he s Japan s Chekhov In fact, you could see an exotic blend of Kafka, Gogol, Chekhov, and even Dostoevsky at work behind these stories My personal favorites are his famous Hell Screen intense and just awesome , In the Bamboo Grove Kurosawa s Rashomon is based on this , and Horse legs which is very Kafkaesque and just funny Loyalty is also excellent in terms of it psychological insights Though I wasn t a big fan of his later, autobiographical stories, they were strangely engaging It s just too bad that one of his most famous stories, Kappa, is not included in this collection Overall, it s a good short anthology of Akutagawa s stories.

  6. says:

    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 preferred the earlier stories which ranged from tales of Samurai warriors and Shoguns and stories of religious persecution when Christianity was making inroads in Japan to satyrical stories about unfortunates with big noses While the settings are completely foreign to me, the characters are people I know all too well My favorite story being Hell Screen in which an egotistical painter is commissioned to paint a screen depicting the horrors of hell In order to sketch the scenes, he puts his assistants through a myriad of tortures and all I ll add in an effort to not give too much away is that karma is a bitch These early stories have an almost Victorian gothic creepiness to them but it s a bit subtle and far insidious in that it seems infinitely real And Akutagawa has a nice dollop of humor running throughout these early stories as well.The later autobiographical stories in which he writes of his mother who went mad, of his infidelities and his fear of going mad himself and his increasing depression that led to his eventual suicide are painful to read in how human and easy to relate to they are But having read Dazai s similarly themed autobiographical stories not too long ago, Akutagawa didn t have quite the gut punch that Dazai had for me Akutagawa s story The Spinning Gears was the best of the autobiographical bunch for me Throughout, he continues to have visions of gears that nearly block out his vision Those of us who have the luxury to think about life beyond just worrying about food and shelter can probably all relate to this nightmare of the cogs of life just taking over The horror element of his earlier stories definitely comes into play here.There s a slightly strange intro to this collection by Haruki Murakami which is far critical of Akutagawa s work than I might have expected though it did seem like a relatively fair critique I m glad I read it after reading the stories though When I studied Chinese, my teachers were all native Chinese, mostly on exchange and when we learned the word for nose we also learned that Americans are frequently called big nose so I had a good chuckle seeing that the Japanese are equally amused by big noses.

  7. says:

    I was Compelled to read this after loving Akira Kurosawa s classic film Most of the stories are superb, with Akutagawa s prose full of such fluidity He really catches you out with some beautiful quirks of description, sharp bouts of humour, and many revelations in a short space of time that it s no wonder he is considered one of Japan s greatest short story writers.

  8. says:

    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 out long hairs from the skulls of the corpses to make wigs and sell them to buy scraps of food delineate a desperate act to fulfill the demonic perils of life Similarly, Martyr highlights the thriving soul of hypocrisy in religion and the susceptibility to strong gossip Akutagawa s affinity for such themes brings out his real tumultuous relation with mental anxiety and clinical neurotic dwelling of his personal life He committed suicide at the age of 35 due to an overdose of Vernol Further, his description of kimonos garbs adorning his protagonists illustrates a high usage of the color blue which in Japanese culture is the color of naivety,immaturity and youth.

  9. says:

    DNF 39%These stories are not bad but I just can t muster any real enthusiasm for them.It is not helped by the stories being unconneced and by themselves not being great examples of the short story format.Of course, they were not written as short stories in the Western literary sense It s just that the way they are written is boring me stiff.Maybe I ll pick this up again at a later date, but right now, this is not working for me.

  10. says:

    Akutagawa is one of my favorite writers He took his own life with barbiturates at age 35 and left behind some 300 stories, sketches, articles and literary experiments In English he has appeared in over a dozen collections of the same 20 30 most famous stories retranslated a dozen times This latest collection, translated by the consummate Jay Rubin, has a lovingly detailed introduction by the inimitable Haruki Murakami It is a mere sampling of 18 stories from his impossibly good body of work Unlike Toson, Soseki and Tanizaki, Akutagawa did not embark on massive literary projects Instead, he honed his craft with precision and an appreciation for classic storytelling I have read some of his stories ten times, and they always elicit a strong response from me In a lot of ways, he resembles Gogol, and even composed an homage with his story The Nose Though different in content, the tone is reminiscent of the Russian master This is one of the masterpieces contained in this treasury The others include Rashomon, In a Bamboo Grove, Hell Screen, Spinning Gears, Death Register, and the Life of a Stupid Man Even the ones that are not masterworks per se, are extremely entertaining Green Onions, The Story of the Head that Fell Off, Horse Legs, and Loyalty fall into this category If you are new to this author, you may not enjoy all of his tales, but I believe you will appreciate many aspects of his singular talent.He writes a few different types of stories 1 retellings of classic tales from Chinese and other sources These read a little like fables 2 Autobiographical tales these are often depressing, taking details of his haunted life and casting them bleakly against the backdrop of his times 3 Religious tales like Christ of Nanking not included in the collection and others Historical tales, taking place well before the author s time but possessing uncanny verisimilitude.In his stories you will find traces of his influences Anatole France, Strindberg, Merimee, Goethe, Nagoya Shiga, Soseki, Toson, Tanizaki, Basho, Doppo, Ogai, Pu Songling and dozens of other European and Chinese authors He has rewritten stories from Pu Songling s collections as well as retold many from the seminal Japanese proto mythologies.Akutagawa draws from Buddhism, Shintoism, Christianity and Myth I think he is one of the most interesting writers I have ever encountered because he processes other literary worlds into new forms Even when he waxes esoteric, he is charming and insightful He explores human nature with deep characters and memorable comedy and tragedy.This brilliant edition includes thorough notes by Rubin explaining the finer points of the stories There is enough material in this singular Penguin edition to write a dissertation on Akutagawa Jay Rubin has put in an astounding effort toward accuracy and illumination I only wish he would continue with further volumes of stories.If you appreciate the stories of Chekhov, Gogol, Maupassant, and Dostoyevsky, you will find a lot to love about this author Typically, you can expect tortured artists, explorations of morality and death, futility and hope, love and loss Very classic themes Green Onions and O gin were odd but welcome selections for this book Overall, it is the most well rounded collection of the author s writings in English.I have so far discovered 107 Akutagawa tales in English I ve read every anthology of Japanese literature, every collection of his tales and tracked down out of print Japanese American periodicals through JSTOR I want to thank Ryan C K Choi and N A Feathers for publishing new translations of his work on their websites This incredible author has not gotten a full treatment in English and I implore translators to get to work on making his complete works available So far we have only about 900 pages of stories, when obscure, ancient masters like Pu Songling have been translated comprehensively Along with this collection you will want to read two collections Mandarins, translated by Charles de Wolf, and The Beautiful and Grotesque, which includes Kappa, his novella.Though Akutagawa s accomplishment is profoundly important far so, I would argue, than Murakami claims in his indicting introduction , one wonders what heights Akutagawa might have reached had he endured the agonies of his intellectual rigors for decades longer Was he capable of writing novels Were the demons he wrote about in Spinning Gears exaggerated or as sincerely recorded as in Strindberg s Inferno These questions will never be answered But part of his appeal is how digestible and varied his work is.This is undoubtedly one of the greatest short story collections by any Japanese or non Western author.

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