• Yoshikuni Sato

The Short Life of Akutagawa Ryunosuke

(Japanese translation below)



By Yoshikuni Sato


About His life

One of the most famous authors during the Meiji Era was Akutagawa Ryunosuke. He was born in 1892 and died in 1927. He was adopted by his uncle because of the death of his mother when he was 11 years old. He went on to the English Department in what is now Tokyo University in 1913. He wrote his first novel Ronen in 1914 and another novel Rashomon in 1915 while he was a university student.


In 1916 Akutagwa graduated from the university and after that he taught English in the Naval Academy until 1919, continuing to write at the same time. He got married in the same year and had three children by1925. After resigning as a teacher he joined a publishing company. In 1927, Akutagawa’s stepbrother killed himself after being falsely charged with the arson and deceiving the insurance company. Therefore, Akutagawa had to take care of his debt and his family. In the same year, he killed himself by drinking a large amount of a sleeping drug after a previous suicide attempt. He was only 35 years old.


About His Portfolio

Most of his works are short stories. For example, Rashomon is well known by many people. He also wrote Hana, which was written for children, and Kappa, which was written to criticize the human society in those days. Although he wrote a lot of short stories, some works are slightly longer. In addition, it is said the focus of his works in later years are different from his early years which mainly dealt with the psychological aspect of humans.


The Other Contemporary Authors

Among the other authors of that time, Natsume Soseki was especially famous. His real name was Natsume Kinnosuke. He was born in 1867 and died in 1916. His style of writing differed from the naturalistic writers of that time. Soseki had many apprentices, including Akutagawa. Soseki’s high evaluation to his work boosted his confidence because he strongly respected Soseki.



芥川龍之介

佐藤令一


彼の生涯

明治時代、芥川龍之介という名の1人の文豪がいました。1892年生まれ、1927年没。11歳の頃、母親の死によってその叔父の養子となります。1913年、龍之介は現在の東京大学の英文学科に進学します。在学中は、処女作となる「老年」を1914年に、「羅生門」を1915年に生み出しました。1916年、大学を卒業した彼は、1919年まで海軍機関学校で英語の教師として働きながら、執筆を続けました。同年、彼は結婚し1925年には3人の子供がいました。退職後は、新聞社に勤めます。1927年、彼の義理の兄が保険金詐欺と放火の冤罪によって自殺するという事件が起こりました。このことから、龍之介は彼の残した借金と彼の家族の面倒を見なくてはならなくなります。そして同年、彼は大量の睡眠薬を飲んで自殺。当時35歳という若さでした。


彼の作品について

彼の作品の多くは短編小説でした。たとえば、「羅城門」は多くの人々に知られています。彼が残した作品には、子供向けに書かれた「鼻」や、当時の人間社会を批判した「河童」等があります。多くの短編小説がある一方で、一般の人々から見て「地獄変」のような一部の作品は長編小説であると言えます。彼の作品は初期と晩年で異なると言われており、初期の作品は主に人間の内面を表したものになっています。


同時代の作家たち

当時の作家において、特筆すべきは夏目漱石です。本名を夏目金之助と言い、1867年に生まれ、1916年に没します。彼の作風は、当時の自然主義作家のものとは違っていました。夏目漱石は多くの弟子を持ち、龍之介もその1人でした。龍之介にとって漱石は憧れの存在であり、漱石が自著を高く評価してくれることこそが、龍之介にとっての激励になったのです。

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