Episode 10: Taisho Magazines and Akutagawa’s Vision of Hell

“Woman Holding a Black Cat” by Yumeji Takehisa, circa 1919 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Check out Episode 10 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

The father of the Japanese short story shares his dark vision about what it means to be an artist.

We’re taking a look at Japan in the 1910s and 1920s, the era of the Taishō Democracy and the heyday of Japan’s literary magazines and serial novels.

Content warning: This episode addresses addiction, suicide, and sexual assault.

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Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, translated by Jay Rubin

Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600 edited by Haruo Shirane

More by Akutagawa:

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The Asahi Shimbun

Hototogisu Magazine (in Japanese)

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

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“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

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Sources

“About the Priest with the Long Nose” in Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Haruo Shirane, ed. Columbia, 2008.

Akutagawa Ryūosuke. Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories. Trans. Jay Rubin, Penguin, 2006.

Coutts, Angela. “Gender and Literary Production in Modern Japan: The Role of Female-Run Journals in Promoting Writing by Women During the Interwar Years” in Signs, 2006.

“How Yoshihide, a Painter of Buddhist Pictures, Took Pleasure in Seeing His House on Fire” in Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Haruo Shirane, ed. Columbia, 2008.

Kenne, Donald. “Ryūnosuke Akutagawa” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Law, Graham and Norimasa Morita. “Japan and the Internationalization of the Serial Fiction Market” in Book History, 2003.

Mack, Edward. Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Value. Duke, 2010.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Murakami, Haruki. “Introduction” in Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. Trans. Jay Rubin, Penguin, 2006.

Yasuda, Anri. “Endeavors of Representation: Writing and Painting in Akutagawa Ryūnosuke’s Literary Aesthetics” in Japanese Language and Literature, 2016.

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