Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Akutagawa, Ryunosuke

(1892-1927) Japanese writer whose first literary work was a 1914 translation of Anatole France's fantasy Balthasar (1889) and who remains best-known for his third story, "Rashomon" (1915), a Supernatural Fiction which appears in Rashomon and Other Stories (coll trans Takashi Kojima 1951 chap US) and served as a base for Akira Kurosawa's movie Rashomon (1951). Other short fiction, much of it based on old Folktales, is assembled in Tales Grotesque and Curious (coll trans G W Shaw 1930). The protagonist of Kappa (1927; trans S Shiojiri 1947; new trans Geoffrey Bownas 1971 US) is propelled by the eponymous water spirit to an Underground country whose culture is a Topsy-Turvy version of Japanese life. The protagonist's disgust on returning to the surface has been taken by critics as reflecting Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift; but RA's own emotional state resembled his protagonist's, and he committed suicide soon after completing the text. [JC]

other works: Hell Screen (coll trans 1948 Japan); Japanese Short Stories (coll trans Takashi Kojima 1961 US).

Ryunosuke Akutagawa


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.