羅生門 [Rashōmon] PDF/EPUB Ò Paperback

羅生門 [Rashōmon] This collection features a brilliant new translation of the Japanese master's stories, from the source for the movie Rashōmon to his later, autobiographical writingsRyūnosuke Akutagawais one of Japan’s foremost stylistsa modernist master whose short stories are marked by highly 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 turned upside down, while tales such as ‘The Nose’, ‘OGin’ 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 Rashōmon In a Bamboo Grove The Nose Dragon: The Old Potter's Tale The Spider Thread Hell ScreenUNDER THE SWORD Dr Ogata Ryōsai: Memorandum OGin LoyaltyMODERN TRAGICOMEDY The Story of a Head That Fell Off Green Onions Horse LegsAKUTAGAWA'S OWN STORY Daidōji Shinsuke: The Early Years The Writer's Craft The Baby's Sickness Death Register The Life of a Stupid Man Spinning Gears ❮Reading❯ ➵ Fisica 1 - Principios y Problemas ➭ Author Paul W. Zitzewitz – 9facts.co.uk from the source for the movie Rashōmon to his later ❮Read❯ ➵ The Beautiful Disruption ➸ Author G.G. Renee Hill – 9facts.co.uk autobiographical writingsRyūnosuke Akutagawais one of Japan’s foremost stylistsa modernist master whose short stories are marked by highly original imagery ➶ [Read] ➲ Games Rednecks Play By Jeff Foxworthy ➾ – 9facts.co.uk cynicism [PDF / Epub] ☆ The Magic Cottage Author James Herbert – 9facts.co.uk beauty and wild humour ‘Rashōmon’ and ‘In a Bamboo Grove’ inspired Kurosawa’s magnificent film and depict a past in which morality is turned upside down ➽ [Lireing] ➿ Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby: An Agile Primer (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series) 1, Sandi Metz, eBook - Amazon.com Par Sandi Metz ➲ – 9facts.co.uk while tales such as ‘The Nose’ [Epub] ➚ Eski Yunanca - Türkçe Sözlük Author Güler Çelgin – 9facts.co.uk ‘OGin’ and ‘Loyalty’ paint a rich and imaginative picture of a medieval Japan peopled by Shoguns and priests ✅ Dont Leave Me Alone pdf ✈ Author GG – 9facts.co.uk vagrants and peasants And in later works such as ‘Death Register’ ➜ [KINDLE] ❆ I Won a Spaceship By Harrison Park ➦ – 9facts.co.uk ‘The Life of a Stupid Man’ and ‘Spinning Gears’ ➻ [Reading] ➽ The Black Mask Boys By William F. Nolan ➰ – 9facts.co.uk Akutagawa drew from his own life to devastating effect [KINDLE] ❁ Born to Ride (Sons of Chaos MC, ❅ Eva Grace – 9facts.co.uk revealing his intense melancholy and terror of madness in exquisitely moving impressionistic storiesA WORLD IN DECAY Rashōmon In a Bamboo Grove The Nose Dragon: The Old Potter's Tale The Spider Thread Hell ScreenUNDER THE SWORD Dr Ogata Ryōsai: Memorandum OGin LoyaltyMODERN TRAGICOMEDY The Story of a Head That Fell Off Green Onions Horse LegsAKUTAGAWA'S OWN STORY Daidōji Shinsuke: The Early Years The Writer's Craft The Baby's Sickness Death Register The Life of a Stupid Man Spinning Gears


10 thoughts on “羅生門 [Rashōmon]

  1. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Rashomon and Other Stories, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
    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 humor.
    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.

    تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هفتم ماه اکتبر سال 2012 میلادی؛ تاریخ دومین خوانش: روز دوم ماه آگوست سال 2015 میلادی

    عنوان: راشومون و هفده داستان دیگر؛ نویسنده: ریونوسکه آکتاگاوا؛ مترجم: پرویز همتیان بروجنی؛ تهران، سبزان، 1390، در 392 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، امیرکبیر، 1391، شابک: 9789640014981؛ موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان ژاپنی سده 20 م

    عنوانهای هیجده داستان: راشومون؛ در بیشه؛ دماغ؛ اژدها؛ تار عنکبوت؛ پرده جهنم؛ گزارش دکتر اوگاتا ریوسای؛ اوجین؛ وفاداری؛ حکایت سری که از بدن جدا شد؛ پیازچه ها؛ پای اسب؛ دایدوجی شینسوکه؛ هنر نویسنده؛ بیماری کودک؛ فهرست مرگ؛ زندگی یک ابله؛ چرخ دنده ها

    متن راشومون
    شب سردی بود، مرد خدمتکار در زیر راشومون بانتظار بند آمدن باران ایستاده بود. کس دیگری در زیر این دروازه بزرگ نبود. روی ستونهای ضخیم و صیقل خورده ارغوانی آنجا که در بعضی جاها پریده و جویده شده بود سوسکهایی دیده میشدند. از آنجایی که راشومون در خیابان سوجاکو بود احتمال داشت که چند نفر دیگر با کلاه اشرافی یا سربند طبقه عادی بانتظار وقفه ای در باران در آنجا ایستاده باشند ولی کسی آنجا نبود. در چند سال گذشته شهر کیوتو گرفتار مصایب بسیار از قبیل زلزله، گردباد و آتش سوزی شده بود و بالنتیجه دستخوش خرابی گشته بود. وقایع نگاران قدیم مینویسند که اشیا شکسته، تصاویر بودا، قابهای مطلا که برگهای نقره ای آن از بین رفته بود، همه در کنار راه ریخته و به عنوان هیزم میفروختند. وقتی اوضاع کیوتو بدین قرار بود دیگر چه جای بحث از تعمیر راشومون بود. روباهان و سایر حیوانات وحشی از این خرابی استفاده کرده بودند و در شکافهای این دروازه بزرگ برای خود لانه ساخته بودند. تبهکاران و راهزنان، منزل و مأوایی در آنجا تهیه دیده بودند
    دیگر عادت شده بود که اجساد بیصاحب را نزدیک این دروازه بیاورند، و روی زمین بیاندازند. پس از غروب آفتاب، این مکان آنقدر وحشتناک میشد که کسی یارای گذشتن از نزدیک آن را نداشت. معلوم نبود که دسته های کلاغ از کجا میآیند. هنگام روز این پرندگان پر سر و صدا در اطراف در بزرگ دروازه میپریدند. و در هنگام غروب که آسمان بعد از فرورفتن خورشید، قرمز رنگ میشد پرندگان شبیه دانه های کنجدی میشدند که بالای دیوارهای دروازه پاشیده شده باشند
    ولی در آن روز حتی یک کلاغ هم دیده نمیشد شاید دیر وقت بود. پله های سنگی در همه جا رو بخرابی گذارده بود و از خلال شکافهایشان علف درآمده بود خدمتکاری که کیمونوی بلند آبی رنگی بر تن داشت روی پله هفتم ،بلندترین پله ها، نشسته بود و بی اراده باران را تماشا میکرد. بیشتر متوجه جوش بزرگی بود که روی گونه راستش زده بود و ناراحتش میکرد. گفتیم که خدمتکار منتظر بند آمدن باران بود ولی نقشه ای نداشت و نمیدانست پس از پایان باران چه کند؟ معمولا به خانه اربابش میرفت ولی آن روز درست پیش از شروع باران وی را از خدمت رانده بودند. ثروت شهر کیوتو به سرعت رو به فنا میرفت و اربابش فقط به علت بدی وضع اقتصادی پس از سالها خدمتگزاری مجبور به اخراج او شده بود. اکنون گرفتار باران شده و گیج مانده بود که به کجا رود. هوا هم بحال افسرده اش توجهی نمیکرد. باران خیال بند آمدن نداشت و او متحیر و متفکر بود که معاش فردا را چگونه تامین کند. افکار متشتت او، همه از سرنوشت سختی خبر میداد. بدون مقصود به صدای قطرات باران که روی خیابان سوجاکو فرومیریخت گوش میداد. باران که راشومون را احاطه کرده بود اکنون شدیدتر شده بود و با صدای ضربه داری فرومیریخت چنان که از دور نیز شنیده میشد. مرد خدمتکار وقتی به بالا نگریست ابر سیاه بزرگی را دید که خود را تا نوک سفال های برآمده سقف کشانده بود
    برای انتخاب وسیله معاش ، چه بد و چه خوب ، به علت وضع اندوهبارش اختیار زیادی نداشت. اگر میخواست کار شریف آبرومندانه ای پیدا کند مسلما میبایست در کنار دیوار و یا در یکی از چاله های سوجاکو از گرسنگی بمیرد، و عاقبت او را به همین دروازه بیاورند و به نزد سگان گرسنه اش بیاندازند. ولی اگر تصمیم بگیرد دزدی کند؟ ... پس از آنکه مدتی در اینباره اندیشید به این نتیجه رسید که باید دزد شود
    ولی تردید هر دم با شدت بیشتری به او روی میاورد. اگر چه مصمم شده بود و میدید که دیگر راهی ندارد ولی هنوز از جمع آوردن نیروی کافی برای تن دادن به دزدی ناتوان بود
    پس از مقداری عطسه کردن آهسته از جای برخاست. سرمای غروب کیوتو وادارش کرده بود تا آرزوی گرمای منقلی را داشته باشد. باد شبانه، در میان ستونهای راشومون زوزه میکشید سوسکها که بر روی ستونهای صیقلی ارغوانی رنگ مینشستند دیگر رفته بودند
    مرد خدمتکار گردن کشید و به اطراف دروازه نظر انداخت و با شانه کیمونویی که بر تن داشت زیر جامه نازکش را پوشاند. تصمیم گرفت تا شب را آنجا بگذراند. کاش میتوانست کنج خلوتی که از باد و باران مصون باشد پیدا کند. راه پله عریضی که به طرف برج روی دروازه میرفت پیدا کرد. هیچ چیز جز اجساد مردگان، آنهم اگر جسدی یافت میشد، ممکن نبود آن جا باشد. سپس با اطمینان شمشیری که به کمر بسته بود و اکنون آنرا از جلد بیرون کشیده بود بر روی کوتاه ترین پله پا نهاد
    چند لحظه بعد در سایه راه پله حرکتی احساس کرد. نفس را حبس کرد و گربه وار در وسط پله ها که به سمت برج میرفت زانو زد و در انتظار ماند و مراقب شد. نوری که از بالای برج میتابید بطور ملایم روی گونه ی راست او تابیده بود. همین گونه بود که جوش بزرگی رویش قرار داشت که حتی از زیر ریش نیز پیدا بود. انتظار داشت که در این برج جز اجساد مردگان چیز دیگر نباشد. ولی چند گامی که بالاتر رفت دید که آنجا آتشی روشن است و بر فراز آن آتش چیزی حرکت میکند. این نور، نوری زرد و لرزان بود که تار عنکبوت های آویخته از سقف را به طرز وحشتناکی آشکار میساخت. چه جور آدمی در راشومون آتش میافروزد ؟...؛
    آنهم در این طوفان؟ ... این معما ، این عفریت وی را هراسناک کرد
    به آرامی سوسمار خود را به بالای پلکان لغزنده رسانید با دست و پا بر زمین نشست و گردن را تا آخرین حد امکان دراز کرد و بداخل برج نظر انداخت
    همانطور که شایع بود چندین جسد مشاهده کرد که بدون ترتیب در اطراف پراکنده بود و چون روشنایی ضعیف بود قادر به شمارش آنها نشد فقط دید که بعضی از آنها برهنه اند و چندتای دیگر کفن دارند، عده ای از آنها زن بودند و همه روی زمین لم داده بودند. دهانشان گشوده و بازوانشان گسترده بود و هیچ نشانه ای از حیات در آنان دیده نمیشد و به عروسکهای گلی شبیه بودند. انسان به شک میافتاد آیا اینان که چنین در سکوت ابدی بسر میبرند زمانی گرمای زندگی در تن داشته اند؟ شانه هاشان، سینه هاشان و یا پیکرهای بی سر و دستشان همه در آن نور کم نمایان بود ولی بقیه اعضا در تاریکی محو بود. چنان بوی نفرت آوری از بدنهای فاسد شده آنان برمیخاست که مرد خدمتکار بی اختیار دست به بینی برد
    لحظه ای دیگر دستش به پایین افتاد و خیره نگریست. نظرش به هیکل عفریت مانندی افتاد که روی جسدی خم شده بود. این عفریت پیر زالی لاغر، بد قیافه، با موهای خاکستری بود که لباسی به شکل راهبه ها پوشیده بود. مشعلی از چوب کاج در دست گرفته بود و به صورت جسدی که موهای دراز سیاه داشت خیره مینگریست
    ترس چنان اورا گرفت که کنجکاوی را از یاد برد و حتی دم بر آوردن را چند لحظه ای فراموش کرد. احساس کرد که موهای سر و تن او سیخ شده است. همانطور که مینگریست دید که زن مشعلش را مابین دو تخته آجر زمین قرار داد و دست خود را روی جسد گذاشت. همچون عنتری که شپش بچه اش را بگیرد شروع به کندن موهای جسد کرد. موها با حرکت دست او به آرامی کنده میشد
    همانطور که موها ورمیآمد ترس نیز از دل آن مرد بیرون میرفت ولی تنفرش نسبت به آن پیر زال افزوده میشد. این احساس نفرت از شخص گذشته و بصورت نفرت از همه پلیدی ها درآمده بود
    در آن لحظه اگر کسی از او میپرسید آیا دلش میخواهد که دزد شود و یا از گرسنگی بمیرد، یعنی همان سئوالی را که اندکی پیش از خود کرده بود وی بدون درنگ و تردید شق دوم را انتخاب میکرد. نفرت از بدیها چنان در وی شعله ور شده بود، که همچون شاخه کاجی که پیر و زال به همراه داشت، و اینک آن را در میان درزهای آجر گذاشته بود و میسوخت
    نمیفهمید که چرا آن پیر زال موهای جسد را میکند و به همین سبب نمیدانست که کار او را باید بد بداند یا خوب. در نظر او کندن موی مرده در راشومون در آن شب طوفانی گناهی نابخشودنی بود. البته این به فکرش هم خطور نمیکرد که لحظه ای پیش تصمیم به دزد شدن گرفته بود
    پس از آن نیروی خود را در ساقها جمع کرد و روی پله بپا خواست و ناگهان شمشیر در دست برابر آن زن بایستاد. پی زن سر برداشت و با چشمان وحشت زده از زمین جهید و میلرزید. لحظه کوتاهی مکث کرد و سپس با فریادی به سمت راه پله دوید. جادوگر کجا میری؟ مرد فریادی کشید و مانع راه پیرزن که میکوشید تا از کنار او بگذرد گردید. وی هنوز راه فرار میجست. زن را به عقب راند، به یکدیگر آویختند. در میان اجساد غلطیدند و گلاویز شدند. در لحظه ای زن را در میان دستان خود نگاهداشت. بازوان او لاغر و همه پوست استخوان بود و همچون استخوانی که از مطبخ دور میاندازند بدون گوشت بود. چون پیر زال بپا ایستاد مرد شمشیر کشید و تیغه نقره فام آنرا در برابر بینی زن گرفت. زن ساکت شد و چونان که گرفتار حمله عصبی شده باشد به لرزه افتاد. دیدگانش چنان گشاد شده بود که به نظر میرسید حالا از حدقه بیرون خواهد آمد. نفسش پرصدا و خشن بود. حیات این زن در دست او بود. از این فکر خشم خروشانش آرام شد و رضایتی جایگزین آن گردید بدو نگریست و به آرامی پرسید ببین، من افسری از دستگاه کلانتر نیستم، مردی غریب و راهگذرم . ترا دو نیمه نمیکنم و کاری به کار تو ندارم ولی باید بمن بگویی که در اینجا چه میکردی؟
    پیرزن دیدگان خود را بیشتر گشود و با چشمان قرمز رنگ و دهان گشاده بصورت مرد با دقت بیشتری خیره شد. لبانش را که بدهان چسبیده بود جنبشی داد. سیب آدم گلویش به حرکت درافتاد و صدایی که بیشتر به غارغار کلاغان شبیه بود از او بگوش رسید : مو میکندم ، مو میکندم تا کلاه گیس ببافم
    پاسخ وی همه مجهولات را روشن کرد و به جایش یاس قرار داد. ناگهان پیر زال به لرزه افتاد و خود را به پای او آویخت. دیگر عفریت نبود بلکه پیرزن بیچاره ای بود که از سر مردگان مو میکند تا با آن کلاه گیس بسازد و آنرا بفروشد و لقمه نانی بدست آورد. تحقیر سراپای مرد را فراگرفت ترس از قلبش بیرون شد و باز نفرت پیشین بدلش راه یافت. این احساسات را دیگران نیز میبایستی داشته باشند. پیر زال، در حالیکه هنوز موها را در دست داشت با صدای خشن و کلمات شکسته گفت: یقینا درست کردن کلاه گیس از موی سر مردگان در نظر شما گناه بزرگی است ولی آنانکه در اینجا هستند شایسته رفتاری بهتر از این نیستند. این زنی که موهای قشنگ و سیاهش را میکندم در نزدیکی دروازه گوشت مار خشک شده و یا تازه را بجای گوشت ماهی به نگهبانان میفروخت. اگر از طاعون نمیمرد اکنون نیز به فروش همان مشغول بود. سربازان دوست داشتند که از او چیز بخرند و میگفتند که غذایش بسیار لذیذ است. آن چه او میکرد عیب نداشت، زیرا اگر آن کار را نمیکرد از گرسنگی میمرد. راه دیگری نداشت. اگر میدانست که من برای تأمین زندگی مجبور خواهم شد تا چنین رفتاری با او بکنم حتما عیبی در آن نمیدید
    مرد خدمتکار شمشیرش را غلاف کرد و دست چپش را بروی آن نهاده و بحرفهای زن گوش داد. با دست راست با جوش بزرگ صورتش بازی میکرد. همان طور که به سخنان آن زن گوش میداد نیرو و تهوری در قلب او پدید آمد. این تهور را اندکی پیش هنگامی که در زیر دروازه نشسته بود نداشت. نیروی عجیبی او را به جهت مخالف ترسی که پیر زال را فراگرفته بود میراند. دیگر او فکر مردن از گرسنگی و یا دزدی کردن نبود. از گرسنگی مردن مطلقا در ذهنش نبود. بلکه این آخرین چیزی بود که شاید بفکرش خطور میکرد
    با صدایی که از آن تمسخر بگوش میرسید گفت آیا تو این را میدانی؟ چون پیر زال از سخن باز ایستاد دست راست را از گونه اش برداشت و بروی زن خم شد و گردن او را در دست گرفت و با خشونت گفت: پس اگر تو را لخت کنم کار درستی کرده ام. اگر تو را لخت نکنم از گرسنگی میمیرم
    سپس جامه زن را پاره کرد و بیرون آورد. چون زن برای گرفتن البسه خود به پایش پیچید لگد سختی بدو نواخت و او را میان اجساد مردگان به گوشه ای انداخت. پس از پنج گام به بالای پلکان رسید. لباسهای زرد رنگی را که از تن پیرزال کنده بود در بغل داشت. در یک چشم بهم زدن پله های بلند را پیموده و در تاریکی شب ناپدید گردید. صدای رعد آسای قدمهای او که از پله ها پایین میرفت در برج طنین افکن شده بود و پس از آن سکوتی برقرار گردید
    اندکی بعد پیرزال از میان اجساد برخاست. ناله کنان وغرغرکنان خود را به بالای پلکان رسانید و به کمک مشعل کاج که هنور اندک نوری از آن میتابید از میان موهای خاکستری که روی صورتش ریخته بود در روشنایی ضعیف مشعل به آخرپله ها نگریست
    در پس آن تاریکی بود که کسی از آن خبر نداشت و کسی آنرا نمیشناخت. ...؛ ا. شربیانی


  2. Jan-Maat Jan-Maat 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)]


  3. Jr Bacdayan Jr Bacdayan 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 Ryūnosuke 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 Rashōmon (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 more 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.


  4. Katia N Katia N says:

    It is probably not very rare when an extremely gifted person emerges on this planet. But it is rare when this person manages to absorb the influences of many cultures and produce a very original innovative syntheses in his short life. The whole body of work that transcends the national boundaries and would influence a way of writing for decades and even centuries. I know only three names in the 20th century Kafka, Borges and now, Akutagawa. Notably he was the first. What unites all these three, they were born either into the culture without long established national literary tradition or in the time of dramatic changes of the society and literature. I would leave Kafka aside. But both Borges and Akutagawa were immersed in many different languages and cultures since their childhood. Borges has read even Don Quixote in English. Akutagawa was reading both Japanese and Chinese traditional literature as child but also hungrily absorbed almost 200 years of the Western literature by the age of 18.

    My first encounter with Akutagawa was unsuccessful. While at university, I’ve picked up his collection of short stories and found them too stylised and boring. Now many years after, my view has changed almost to the opposite extreme. I can read him many times and never get bored. In fact, I absolutely admire the versatility of his gift. His variety of styles is exceptionally wide. And he was always experimenting with his method and searching for new techniques through his short life. He never was totally satisfied it seems. He changed the decorations and styles. But there is one thing which always present in his tales. It is authenticity of human feelings. It is also amazing how many writers he anticipated, including Kafka and Borges but even Knausgaard though it might sound incredible to start with.

    I’ve read much bigger volume of his stories in Russian. Not that big part of his work has been translated into English. But I think this collection contains many of his best tales with a few notable exceptions. I would just pause on a few to underscore the versatility of his gift:

    “Rashomon” and “In a Bamboo grove”. Those two are the most famous as they were the base of the movie by Kurosawa. But purely from the perspective of the literature, the second one stands out. Apparently it is the first time ever when a bunch of unreliable narrators are describing the same story from the different perspective, contradicting each other. And the single “truth” is never revealed. Robert Browning apparently did something similar in The Ring and the Book but Akutagawa raised it to the totally different level with the open ending. Now we are so much get used to this tool. But even from the perspective of our century, this is the one of the most elegant and economically told stories of this type.

    “Hell Screen” - this is not a medieval tale. This is a philosophic investigation about the dominance of the high art over reality. Apparently Akutagawa visited an anatomy morgue to write this story.

    “The story of head fell off” - it is included here in a comical section, but there is nothing comical about this story. And the image of a deep blue sky getting closer and closer would stay with me for a long time.

    “Green onions” - this story I would not be surprised to find between early Chekhov tales. How our high expectations from life often end with the prose of the aforementioned vegetable.

    “Horse legs” - purely from the land of Kafka.

    There are a few of the notable omissions in this collection:

    “The Yam Gruel” is translated into English. It is included into Rashomon and Other Stories. It is a tale about the feeling of a “little” person modelled on Gogol’s Overcoat. As far as I remember, Gogol’s character dies from the shock of loosing the overcoat. But Akutagawa has twisted the tale asking very different question: what if he would get what he dreams about? And there is no Akaki Akakievich. He has been replaced by a samurai.

    “Handkerchief” - It is available in English as well. It is included into Mandarins: Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. The collection of the recently translated stories by Archipelago press. What a clever short story this is! On the surface it is about East-West and its mutual accommodation. But this is not a simple story. It is one of those tales like a matreshka doll. You’ve opened one not expecting to find another, but it is in there. And then - one more. And the smallest one does not look anything like the initial one and leaves you puzzled what was the story about really.

    Now the section called “Akutagawa own story”. While reading the introduction in my Russian collection, I’ve learned a lot about the state of the Japanese literature at the time. Due to the Meji reformation and opening to the West, they tried to build up their modern literature by absorbing around 200 years of the Western Canon. Obviously they were loosing themselves in the process. Apparently they did not have a concept of a novel per se. So in 1885 Tsubouchi Shōyō (1859-1935) a literary critic, translator of Western literature, and novelist formulated the principle for the Japanese fiction in his work Shōsetsu Shinzui (The Essence of the Novel). He came to the conclusion that the descriptive realism should be the way to go. This has apparently helped to focus the minds of the Japanese writers.

    Many of them has taken the idea even a step further following the theory that only object a person could know truthfully is her/himself. As a result they developed something called I-novel (私小説, Shishōsetsu, Watakushi Shōsetsu) where a writer would describe both his mental and physical life in its daily details with the varied level of psychological depth. So the fashionable 21th century auto-fiction was in fact born in Japan about a century earlier. I was amazed to find that out. But why i am talking about it? Akutagawa initially considered it more or less as lazy and limiting exercise. But then, at some stage, in his last decade he has started to experiment with the method. At the same time he kept experimenting with the style, used huge range of framing devices from the letters to the dialogues and the sketchs of unwritten novels (the device later successfully used by Borges who loved Akutagawa's work). He also kept his psychological complexity in these stories. And his very last tales before his suicide are read more like impressionistic pieces full of terrible beauty rather than the confessional tales.

    One serious omission form this part of this collection is “Dialogue in darkness”, the story that is written as a conversation between Akutagawa and the angel or maybe he is the fallen angel who has become a devil. I’ve searched whether the story exists in English. But did not find anything conclusive. The story was published posthumously. And I wanted to finish with the quote from there:

    D. You will very likely die soon.
    Akutagawa: But that thing which has created me at the first place will create the second me.

    And the “second him” is the powerful and omnipresent influence in the world literature since.


  5. Nandakishore Varma Nandakishore Varma 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 more 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 more 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 .


  6. Taka Taka 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 more 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.


  7. E. G. E. G. says:

    Note on Japanese Name Order and Pronunciation
    Acknowledgments
    Chronology & Notes
    Introduction: Akutagawa Ryūnosuke: Downfall of the Chosen, by Murakami Haruki
    Further Reading
    Translator's Note

    A World in Decay

    --Rashōmon
    --In a Bamboo Grove
    --The Nose
    --Dragon: The Old Potter's Tale
    --The Spider Thread
    --Hell Screen

    Under the Sword

    --Dr. Ogata Ryōsai: Memorandum
    --O-Gin
    --Loyalty

    Modern Tragicomedy

    --The Story of a Head That Fell Off
    --Green Onions
    --Horse Legs

    Akutagawa's Own Story

    --Daidōji Shinsuke: The Early Years
    --The Writer's Craft
    --The Baby's Sickness
    --Death Register
    --The Life of a Stupid Man
    --Spinning Gears

    Notes


  8. Kimley Kimley 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 more subtle and far more insidious in that it seems infinitely more 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 more 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.


  9. Steven Godin Steven Godin 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.


  10. Praj Praj 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). Furthermore, 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.


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