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Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Ryunosuke Akutagawa committed suicide in 1927 at the age of thirty-five, but he accomplished much during his short writing career. Excelling in the finely crafted short tale, Akutagawa also wrote poetry and several acclaimed prose works. After honing his skills on mostly impersonal tales, he composed several hauntingly personal pieces. Only eight years after Akutagawa's death his stature was officially recognized through the establishment of the Akutagawa Prize for literature. Awarded twice a year, this prize recognizes new literary talent and has become probably the most coveted literary award in Japan. Before turning to his own life for inspiration as a writer, Akutagawa often relied on other literary works. Japanese scholar Yoshida Seiichi has traced sixty-two of Akutagawa's 150 or so compositions to various kinds of literary sources. A reader with wide tastes, Akutagawa adopted ideas from modern Western writers such as Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nikolai Gogol, as well as from collections of medieval Japanese stories.