Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best collection of Akutagawa that I've come upon, May 16, 2006
This review is from: Essential Akutagawa: Rashomon, Hell Screen, Cogwheels, a Fool's Life and Other Short Fiction (Paperback)
The translation is not as bad as some of the reviews make it out to be. At times (I can count them on my hand)sentences may seem a little awkward but by no means does this hinder the story telling in any way. Akutagawa's use of language is not full of rhetoric that would be hard to translate. That's the beauty of his work: each line has it's own energy and he doesn't bog it down with flowering up the language. It's subtle, strong and poetic.

This book is by far one of the best collections of Akutagawa's work. There are hard to find stories in here and his range as a writer are displayed to the reader. All the stories are great here, and the classics such as Rashomon and In a Grove are included, but the treasures are the visceral "Hell Screen," the cultural investigations of "The Ball" and "The Faint Smiles of the Gods," the surreal "San Sebastian," the horrific view inside the mind of Akutagawa in "Cogwheels" and the poetic "A Fool's Life"

plus, all the rest included in the volume are greatly executed pieces literature as well.

If you are interested in Akutagawa and would like read more and get closer to the mind of this amazing Japanese writer, definately pick it up. If can find this book, get it. And usually they aren't expensive.

I only wish they would issue out new printings so that it was easier for people to get a hold of and share.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 18, 2007 10:51:54 PM PST
skytwo says:
"At the risk of sounding pretentious," the translations really ARE bad. As I mentioned in my review, 'Cogwheels' in particular was clearly translated by people who just couldn't comprehend the grammar. Period. I don't have any interest in pushing a particular translation or agenda, but I was acknowledged in a recent Akutagawa volume-- I say that only to point out that yes, I can read Japanese. And this book is the equivalent of a K-Tel release. It isn't a question of nuance or style that prompted my negative review. The book is filled with egregious and pretty basic errors. As I wrote earlier, Akutagawa was a genuinely gifted writer, and that's exactly the problem with this book. You aren't reading Akutagawa, you're reading Jerry Lewis' interpretation. It's a selection of recycled, moldy, inept translations regurgitated for a quick buck, and that's it. By all means, read Akutagawa-- just not this version. Because it isn't really Akutagawa.
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