Ryunosuke Akutagawa

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  • Hell Screen

  • Introducing Little Clothbound Classics: irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world's greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith.

    Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.

    Akutagawa was one of the towering figures of modern Japanese literature, and is considered the father of the Japanese short story. This paradigmatic selection, which includes the stories that inspired Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film Rashomon, showcases the terrible beauty, cynicism, sublime pain and absurd humour of his writing.

    'One never tires of reading and re-reading his best works. The elegantly spare style has a truly spine-tingling brilliance' - Haruki Murakami

Ryunosuke Akutagawa was a short-story writer, poet and essayist, and 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 with an English Literature degree and worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1919. His mother had suffered a mental breakdown shortly after his birth and he was plagued by fear of inherited insanity all his life. He killed himself in 1927.

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