Japan Society Book Club – Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

Monday 8 April 2013                                                  7.00pm

The Old Star
66 Broadway
London SW1H 0DB

Free for Japan Society Members

The Japan Society will be reading Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s famous short story collection in April, with an introduction by Haruki Murakami in the English edition (see below).

Akutagawa is one of Japan’s foremost stylists – a modernist master whose short stories are marked by highly original imagery, cynicism, beauty and wild humour. 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 NoseO-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.

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) short-story writer, poet, and essayist, one of the first Japanese modernists translated into English. He was born in Tokyo in 1892, and began writing for student publications at the age of ten. He graduated from Tokyo University in 1916 with an English Literature degree and worked as a teacher before becoming a full time writer in 1919. His mother suffered from dementia and he was always plagued by a fear of inherited insanity, ultimately taking his own life in 1927. Today, the semi-annual Akutagawa Prize is one of Japan’s most prestigious literary awards, given to a new or emerging writer who has published the best literary story in a newspaper or magazine.

The book club is held on the second Monday of the month. There is no restriction on the nationality of the authors read, but books should be available in translation in both Japanese and English. The discussion is conducted mainly in English, but you can choose the language in which you read the book. The intention is simple: to explore the themes of the book, express personal opinions on the style and content, discuss how the book has changed (or not) in translation and to have a relaxed discussion with others who have similar interests.

Click here for an English edition
Click here for a Japanese edition

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email events@japansociety.org.uk or submit the online booking form.

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