Japan native Ryunosuke Akutagawa was a perfectionist who labored painstakingly over every line he wrote. And although he destroyed many of his own pieces, his work “Complete Works” fill twenty volumes. He Wrote many poems and essays, but was best known for his short stories. In fact the annual award for Japan’s best short story is named the Akutagawa Prize in his honor.
Akutagawa was a sensitive, troubled child who found solace and escape in reading. His mother suffered from a nervous break down one year after he was born, and he was taken in by his uncle and aunt. At the age of ten, he began to write his own stories. He attended Tokyo Imperial University where he studied English and East Asian Literature.
Although he wrote throughout his youth, he did was not recognized until 1916, when a famous writer Natsume Soseki read his story “The Nose”. Soseki republished it in a magazine with a large circulation and this exposer brought instant fame to Akutagawa.
As a student of human nature, Akutagawa constantly observed the behavior of people around him. He was unimpressed with what he saw and this displeasure is reflected in the harshly ironic tone of his later stories as he details the devious, petty motivations of human beings. Akutagawa was also plagued by doubts of his own artistic abilities, and by an inability to deal with the practical aspects of life. This all fed into the vague uneasiness that he gave as the reason for his suicide at the early age of thirty-five.
Modern World Literature (259)

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