A Cross Cultural Examination of Rashomon

In 1915, during the Taisho period of Japanese history, native Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa created a collection of short stories entitled Rashomon and Other Stories. The progenitor of the modern Japanese short story form, Akutagawa's collection of allegorical sketches transcends the limits of social, moral, and lingual constructs and has received praise the world over. When it was translated into English in 1952, Rashomon had already accrued a host of fans around the world, including Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, whose 1950 cinematic integration of the first two stories from the novel, "Rashomon" and "In a Grove" is considered one of his finest films. These two stories from Akutagawa's novel are not simply an excellent format for cinematic interpretation, but a looking glass through which Akutagawa's literary masterpiece can be interpreted.

A student of Natsume Soseki, the acclaimed author of psychological novels on par with the Russian masters, Akutagawa delves into the psyche and pathos of medieval Japan, creating a stylistic veneer of simple beauty paralleled only by the rich underlying social commentary and observations of Japan's dizzying entrance into the industrialized...

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