Posted by: Michael | 07/02/2008


I’m reading a new translation of stories written by Akutagawa by Jay Rubin. I have not read him before. So far I have read four short stories, and they have the feel of Gogol or Pynchon especially Pynchon early in his career; the same offbeat humor. Akutagawa was educated and well versed in Western literature, so there is no doubt he read Gogol. Akutagawa even has a story titled ‘The Nose’, which though different than Gogol’s story; it is also absurd. Since he died in 1927 he was not influenced by Pynchon, though Pynchon might have influenced by him. I hope the rest of the book is as good as these four stories.

Another writer that reminds me of Gogol and Akutagawa is Matthew Sharpe – go read him. He was a good typesetter also.

I will report on the rest of the book in future, but these four stories are worth the price of the book.

Rashomon and 17 other Stories, By Akutagawa Ryunosuk; Translated by Jay Rubin; Published by penguin Classics

I just re-read  the introduction and it seems that these four stories were taken from a 12th and 13th century Japanese folktales. However, I still think the tone is influenced by Gogol.


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