Born 1 March 1892
Died 24 July 1927(aged 35)
Occupation Writer Genres short stories Notable work(s) Hana"
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (芥川 龍之介 Akutagawa Ryūnosuke , March 1, 1892 – July 24, 1927) was a Japanese writer active in the Taishō period in Japan. He is regarded as the "Father of the Japanese short story". He committed suicide at age of 35 through an overdose of barbital.
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa was born in the Kyōbashi district of Tokyo, the third child and only son of father Toshizō Niihara and mother Fuku Niihara (née Akutagawa). He was named "Ryūnosuke" ("Son [of] Dragon") because he was allegedly born in the Year of the Dragon, in the Month of the Dragon, on the Day of the Dragon, and at the Hour of the Dragon. His mother went insane shortly after his birth, so he was adopted and raised by his maternal uncle, Akutagawa Dōshō, from whom he received the Akutagawa family name. He was interested in classical Chinese literature from an early age, as well as the works of Mori Ōgai and Natsume Sōseki.
He entered the First High School in 1910, developing relationships with classmates such as Kan Kikuchi, Kume Masao, Yamamoto Yūzō, and Tsuchiya Bunmei, all of whom would later become authors. He began writing after entering Tokyo Imperial University in 1913, where he studied English literature.
While still a student he proposed marriage to a childhood friend, Yayoi Yoshida, but his adoptive family did not approve the union. In 1916 he became engaged to Fumi Tsukamoto, whom he married in 1918. They had three children: Hiroshi Akutagawa (1920–1981) was an actor, Takashi Akutagawa (1922–1945) was killed as a student draftee in Burma, and Yasushi Akutagawa (1925–1989) was a composer.
In 1914, Akutagawa and his former high school friends revived the literary journal Shinshichō ("New Currents of Thought"), publishing translations of William Butler Yeats and Anatole France along with their own works.
Akutagawa published his first short story Rashōmon the following year in the literary magazine Teikoku Bungaku ("Imperial Literature"), while still a student. The story, based on a twelfth-century tale, was noticed by author Natsume Sōseki. Encouraged by the praise, Akutagawa thereafter considered himself Sōseki's disciple, and began visiting the author for his literary circle meetings every Thursday. It was also at this time that he started writing haiku under the haigo (or pen-name) Gaki.
These meetings led to Hana ("The Nose", 1916), which was published in Shinshicho. Akutagawa followed with a series of short stories set in Heian period, Edo period or early Meiji period Japan. These stories reinterpreted classical works and historical incidents.
Examples of these stories include: Gesaku zanmai ("A Life Devoted to Gesaku", 1917) and Kareno-shō ("Gleanings from a Withered Field", 1918), Jigoku hen ("Hell Screen", 1918); Hōkyōnin no shi ("The Death of a Christian", 1918), and Butōkai ("The Ball", 1920).
Akutagawa was a strong opponent of naturalism. He published Mikan ("Mandarin Oranges", 1919) and Aki ("Autumn", 1920) which have more modern settings.
In 1921, Akutagawa interrupted his writing career to spend four months in China, as a reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun. The trip was stressful and he suffered from various illnesses, from which his health would never recover. Shortly after his return he published Yabu no naka ("In a Grove", 1922).
The final phase of Akutagawa's literary career was marked by his deteriorating physical and mental health. Much of his work during this period is distinctly autobiographical, some even taken directly from his diaries. His works during this period include Daidōji Shinsuke no hansei ("The Early Life of Daidōji Shinsuke", 1925) and Tenkibo ("Death Register", 1926).
Akutagawa attacked author Jun'ichirō Tanizaki by claiming that lyricism was more important than structure in a story.
Akutagawa's final works include Kappa (1927), a satire based on a creature from Japanese folklore, Haguruma ("Spinning Gears", 1927), Aru ahō no isshō ("A Fool's Life"), and the Bungeiteki na, amari ni bungeiteki na ("Literary, Much Too Literary", 1927).
Towards the end of his life, Akutagawa began suffering from visual hallucinations and nervousness over fear that he had inherited his mother's mental disorder. In 1927 he tried to take his own life, together with a friend of his wife, but the attempt failed. He finally committed suicide by taking an overdose of Veronal, which had been given to him by Saito Mokichi on July 24 of the same year. His dying words in his will claimed he felt a "vague insecurity" 「ぼんやりとした不安」 (Bon'yaritoshita fuan) about the future. He was 35 years old.
Akutagawa wrote no full-length novels, focusing instead on short stories of which he wrote over 150 during his brief life. The classic film Rashōmon (1950) directed by Akira Kurosawa is a reasonably faithful retelling of Akutagawa's story In a Grove. Only the title and the frame scenes set in the Rashomon Gate are taken from Akutagawa's story, "Rashomon." In the film Kurosawa must finally offer a scene which purports to show the events as they would have appeared to an objective observer. In Akutagawa's story no such resolution is required and the reader is left with no guide but their own understanding to unravel an unexplained mystery.
Japanese composer Mayako Kubo has written an opera named Rashomon, based on Akutagawa's story. The German version was premiered in Graz, Austria, in 1996, the Japanese version followed 2002 in Tokyo.
Year Japanese title English title 1914 老年 Rōnen Old Age 羅生門 Rashōmon Rashōmon 1916 鼻 Hana The Nose 芋粥 Imogayu Yam Gruel 手巾 Hankechi The Handkerchief 煙草と悪魔 Tabako to Akuma Tobacco and the Devil 1917 尾形了斎覚え書 Ogata Ryosai Oboe gaki Dr. Ogata Ryosai: Memorandum 戯作三昧 Gesakuzanmai Absorbed in writing popular novels 1918 蜘蛛の糸 Kumo no Ito The Spider's Thread 地獄変 Jigokuhen Hell Screen 枯野抄 Kareno shou A commentary on the desolate field for Bashou 邪宗門 Jashūmon Jashūmon 奉教人の死 Hōkyōnin no Shi The Martyr 1919 魔術 Majutsu Magic 龍 Ryū Dragon: the Old Potter's Tale 1920 舞踏会 Butou Kai A ball 秋 Aki Autumn 南京の基督 Nankin no Kirisuto Christ in Nanking 杜子春 Toshishun Tu Tze-chun アグニの神 Aguni no Kami God of Aguni 1921 山鴫 YamaShigi A snipe 秋山 Akiyama Autumn Mountain 上海游記 Shanhai Yuki A report on the journey of Shanghai 1922 藪の中 Yabu no Naka In a Grove, also In a Bamboo Grove 将軍 Shogun The general トロッコ Torokko A Lorry 1923 保吉の手帳から Yasukichi no Techou kara From Yasukichi's notebook 1924 一塊の土 Ikkai no Tsuchi A clod of earth 1925 大導寺信輔の半生 Daidoji Shinsuke no Hansei Daidoji Shinsuke: The Early Years 侏儒の言葉 Shuju no Kotoba Aphorisms by a pygmy 1926 点鬼簿 Tenkibo Death Register 1927 玄鶴山房 Genkaku Sanbō Genkaku's room 河童 Kappa Kappa (novel) 文芸的な、余りに文芸的な Bungeiteki na, amarini Bungeiteki na Literary, All-Too-Literary 歯車 Haguruma Spinning Gears 或阿呆の一生 Aru Ahō no Isshō Fool's Life 或旧友へ送る手記 Aru Kyūyū he Okuru Shuki A Note to a Certain Old Friend 西方の人 Saihō no Hito The Man of the West
Selected works in translation
- Fool's Life. Trans. Will Peterson Grossman (1970). ISBN 0670323500
- Kappa. Trans. Geoffery Bownas. Peter Owen Publishers (2006) ISBN 0720612004
- Hell Screen. Trans. H W Norman. Greenwood Press. (1970) ISBN 0837130174
- Mandarins. Trans. Charles de Wolf. Archipelago Books (2007) ISBN 0-9778576-0-3
- Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories. Trans. Jay Rubin. Penguin Classics (2004). ISBN 0143039849
- TuTze-Chun. Kodansha International (1965). ASIN B0006BMQ7I
- La fille au chapeau rouge. Trans. Lalloz ed. Picquier (1980). in ISBN 978-2877302005 (French edition)
- Keene, Donald. Dawn to the West. Columbia University Press; (1998). ISBN 0231114354
- Ueda, Makoto. Modern Japanese Writers and the Nature of Literature. Stanford University Press (1971). ISBN 0804709041
- Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories - the Chronology Chapter, Trans. Jay Rubin. Penguin Classics (2004). ISBN 0143039846
- Nakada, Masatoshi. Akutagawa Ryunosuke: Shosetsuka to haijin. Kanae Shobo (2000). ISBN 4907846037
- Shibata, Takaji. Akutagawa Ryunosuke to Eibungaku. Yashio Shuppansha (1993). ISBN 4896500911
- Takeuchi, Hiroshi. Akutagawa Ryunosuke no keiei goroku. PHP Kenkyujo (1983). ISBN 4569210260
- Tomoda, Etsuo. Shoki Akutagawa Ryunosuke ron. Kanrin Shobo (1984). ISBN 490642449X
- Works by Ryunosuke Akutagawa at Project Gutenberg
- Akutagawa Ryunosuke on aozora.gr.jp (complete texts with furigana)
- Akutagawa Ryunosuke on Amazon Kindle Store (Japanese texts with furigana)
- Literary Figures from Kamakura
- Ryunosuke Akutagawa's grave
- Biography by Petri Liukkonen
- Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa Short stories Others
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Akutagawa — is a Japanese surname; it may refer to:* Ryūnosuke Akutagawa ( Akutagawa Ryūnosuke , 1892 1927), Japanese poet and writer * Yasushi Akutagawa ( Akutagawa Yasushi , 1925 1989), Japanese composer and conductor, son of Akutagawa Ryunosuke * The… … Wikipedia
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