Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892
) was a prominent modern Japan
ese poet and author.
Early on, Ryunosuke’s brilliance asserted itself. He studied English
at the University of Tokyo
. 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
". In 1919
, he began writing short stories and essays for the newspaper Mainichi
. Following a five month visit to China
, his health seriously deteriorated and he suffered from nervous breakdown
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
), the last based on the amphibious demons of Japanese mythology.
, at age 35, he committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.