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Rashomon and Other Stories Paperback – December, 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
In a Grove, the basis of the movie Rashomon, consists of the testimony of several people (including the victim through a medium) in which three people take responsibility for the death - a robber, the victim himself and the victim's wife. Each version appears to be true; each interprets the expressions of others differently than the person whose expression is described.
Rashomon tells of a dismissed servent's decision to become a thief; he is then confronted with what others have chosen as necessary to survive.
Yam Gruel tells of an official who is taunted and abused, receiving his one goal in life - to eat his full of yam gruel - only to discover that receiving the gruel is not as he anticipated.
The Martyr tells of an orphan boy, raised by Jesuits, accused of fathering a child out of wedlock. He becomes a hero in a way that forces those who accused and shunned him to reconsider their actions.
Kesa and Morito is a love triangle that will end in murder - but the love triangle is loveless.
The Dragon is a practical joke gone awry; or is it really a joke?
All the stories are well worth your time - enjoyable and thought-provoking.
'In A Grove' is a very unsetteling story, and obviously the most well-known, but I felt that 'The Matyr' and 'Kisa and Morito' are both very witty, and also my favourites. I imagine, that a lot of people will now get a chance to read this book due in part to the media coverage that came from the movie 'Ghost Dog', with Forest Whittaker, where the book itself played a supporting role. It's not hard to understand, after reading, why. This book gives you insight into persepctive, humiliation, accepting fate - even if it is not a good one, and following the path you've chosen.
This book conatins some great uses of fantasy, realism, symbolism surrealism, and in a time and place where a Western reader might not expect it.
"Rashomon" -- a meditation on good and evil, on desperation and hypocrisy -- tells of a servant who cannot decide whether to steal or starve until he meets an old woman who is pulling the hair out of corpses. Lacking compassion or empathy, he fails to recognize himself in her. Similarly, the Christian values of charity and forgiveness give way to hypocrisy in "The Martyr," as Jesuit missionaries and members of the Christian church in Nagasaki condemn a devout parishioner (Lorenzo) on the strength of rumored sin -- only later to declare Lorenzo a martyr after an act of self-sacrifice reveals Lorenzo's true (and surprising) nature.
"Yam Gruel" is the story of an aging samurai who, having been treated with contempt his whole life, clings to a dream -- to eat his fill of yam gruel -- until, finally given the opportunity to fulfill his desire, he questions whether he really wants to do so. In "The Dragon," a priest who is ridiculed because of his long nose decides to pull a prank on his fellow priests by posting a notice board that says "On March third a dragon shall ascend from this pond," only to find the prank taking on a life of its own.Read more ›
Each of the stories, while very short indeed, packs a powerful punch. Akutagawa managed to condense despair into its basest elements, then packaged it raw and hurting, yet beautiful and human. The title story, "Roshomon," is a scant 9 1/2 pages long yet you would not wish for a single extra word to be included.
Of course, not all the stories in this collection are so dismal. The longest tale, "Yam Gruel," shows something of the wittiness and lightness of "Kappa." Some of the stories, such as the catholic influenced, "The Martyr," might be considered uplifting if you take a spiritual lesson from it. "In the Grove," the story that is the basis for the Kurosawa film "Rashomon," is an engaging story on the truth and ego and interpretation. But bleak nonetheless.
The translation of "Rashomon and Other Stories" is excellent, and captures the style and intent beautifully. It is a very old translation, as can be shown by the translator feeling the need to include a note explaining what "sushi" is.
My single complaint about this book is that, for the price, it is very small indeed. It could have contained at least double the amount of Akutagawa short stories, which certainly exist, and been a better collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great short stories. If you don't like novels, it's one to read.Published 6 days ago by Joel Zrolka
Perfect style, a different writing . The personality of the great writers of that period of Japanese literature.There is one outstanding story .I enjoyed read it. Read morePublished 13 days ago by amateco
Classic short stories. I read it while travelling. Very entertaining.Published 6 months ago by Daniel R. Wells
The edition of Rashomon is a collection of six short stories: "In a Grove," "Rashomon," "Yam Gruel," "The Martyr," "Kesa and Morito,"... Read morePublished 7 months ago by AJ.
This is only the second authentic Japanese work I have ever read. It was prompted by reading Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert H. Buckley
In a nut shell this is a boring book for me. I believe Japanese literature fans will like it.Published 11 months ago by Maia Reshef