Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa


Four stars, read in July 2016.

This was gorgeous. Each story is full of imagery, fascinating characters, and an examination of the time period (early 1900s). I can’t believe how closely I relate with the autobiographical stories. “Spinning Gears,” especially the ending, was amazing—sort of hauntingly visual—it almost felt like a movie. I’m not sure why I went with four stars instead of five, but I’ll stick with it for now.

I particularly loved these two passages, which I think might come from different stories, both about his younger years in school.

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

1. Bookish. A “bookish” person is one who prizes the power of the mind over the power of the flesh.
2. Frivolous. A “frivolous” person is one who prizes the beautiful over the useful.
3. Arrogant. An “arrogant” person is one who refuses to compromise his beliefs in deference to others.

In fulfillment of his long-standing dream, he became the author of several books. But what he got in return was a desolate loneliness. And now that he has made peace with that loneliness—or, rather, now that he has learned that he has no choice but to make peace with that loneliness—he can look back twenty years and see the schoolhouse where he was so tormented standing before him in a rose-colored twilight. Of course, the poplars still harbor the lonely sound of the wind in their thick gloomy branches . . .


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jan Hicks says:

    I have the same edition. Isn’t it wonderful?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwen says:

      It’s lovely. I borrowed that copy from my library, but I would love to buy a copy of my own sometime.


      1. Jan Hicks says:

        It’s one of those books I like to take off the shelf just to feel it in my hand. Even the paper is lovely!


      2. Gwen says:

        So do I! In fact, a couple weeks ago I went to the shelf with that intent and it wasn’t where it was supposed to be, so I looked until I found it misshelved in the mysteries. My bookish habit paid off. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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