Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892-1927) was a prominent modern Japanese poet and author.

Early on, Ryunosuke’s brilliance asserted itself. He studied English at the University of Tokyo from 1913 to 1916. While still an undergraduate, he achieved literary fame. He translated Western literature such as the work of Anatole France and William Butler Yeats. His short stories "Rashomon" (the basis for the Akira Kurosawa film several decades later) and "Hana" ("The Nose") were highly acclaimed, especially by the prominent novelist Natsume Soseki. Soseki helped him gain entrance into literary circles and served as a source of inspiration and encoragement.

After graduation, he taught English in Tokyo and began writing haiku under the pseudonym "Gaki". In 1919, he began writing short stories and essays for the newspaper Mainichi. Following a five month visit to China in 1921, his health seriously deteriorated and he suffered from nervous breakdowns.

Akutagawa’s fiction was often exotic and drew from disparate sources from all over Japanese history and legend. Important stories include "The Handkerchief" (1916), "Yabu no naka" ("In a Grove", 1921), "Hell Screen" (1922), and "Kappa" (1927), the last based on the amphibious demons of Japanese mythology.

In 1927, at age 35, he committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.

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