Life story - Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

Essays on literary works - 2023

Life story
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

The father of the future writer was a milk merchant who owned pastures on the outskirts of Tokyo. The mother belonged to the Akutagawa family, in which the famous writer was later brought up: hence the surname.

Ryunosuke was born when his father was forty-two and his mother thirty-three. Following an old custom, the parents pretended that the boy was thrown to them, and gave him up to be raised in the house of the mother's older sister, who, although she was married, had no children. All this was done out of superstitious considerations, since in Japan it is considered not a very good omen when the parents of a newborn are over thirty years old.

In 1910, he graduated from the Tokyo Municipal High School with the highest marks and, determined to study English literature, entered the First College in the literature department.

In 1913, Akutagawa graduated from college and entered the English department of Tokyo Imperial University. Classes at the university disappointed the novice writer - the lectures turned out to be uninteresting, and he stopped attending them, carried away by the publication of the magazine "Shinshicho". The magazine took the position of criticizing the school of naturalism, and its representatives were the first\"anti-naturalists \". Akutagawa and his literary friends proclaimed neorealism with their creative method.

The rise of the democratic movement, in their opinion, gave rise to two phenomena in Japanese literature: proletarian literature and neorealism.

The beginning of the writer's work dates back to 1915, when he wrote the stories \"Rashomon Gate\" and \"The Nose\", which immediately made people talk about the emergence of a new talented author. (By the way, the film directed by Akira Kurosawa called "Rashomon" has nothing to do with the story and is based on another work of the writer - "In the thicket".)

Many critics attribute the appearance of these stories to the time when Akutagawa was mentally depressed because of a love story that ended tragically, and sought to turn away from reality, plunge into the world of antiquity.

After graduating from university in December 1916, Akutagawa received a position as an English teacher at the Naval School. Later, he will describe his life during these years in a series of short stories about the teacher Yasukichi, an honest, but somewhat unlucky person who gets into various funny stories.

He wrote to his future wife that he fiercely hated teaching: "Whenever I see the faces of the students, I immediately feel melancholy, and there's nothing to be done. But I instantly come to life when I have paper, books, a pen and good tobacco in front of me." ". Nevertheless, these were the most fruitful years of his life - in nine months he created about twenty short stories, essays and articles. At the same time, with the help of one of his friends, Akutagawa is trying to get a teaching position at Keio University, but the negotiations dragged on, and in the end he accepts another offer - he becomes an employee of the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

Regarding his predilection for depicting the past, Akutagawa said: \"The soul of a person in antiquity and modern man has much in common. That's the whole point \". Therefore, in ancient times, he was looking for analogues of actions, thoughts, psychology of contemporary people.

In general, Akutagawa's stories from the past can be divided into three periods: the 12th century, when the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto, was in the grip of many misfortunes, the end of the 16th century. - the era of strong influence and the spread of Christianity in Japan and the beginning of the Meiji era - the period of enlightenment.

Akutagawa becomes an unsurpassed master of the short story, whose traditions have deep and ancient roots in Japan.

Literary critics of Akutagawa find something in common with the works of another famous master of Japanese literature - Natsume Soseki, in particular, the problem of selfishness. This is no coincidence, because Akutagawa was considered one of Natsume's students and attended literary evenings held in his house. In both Natsume's novels and Akutagawa's novels, selfishness was not a problem with the individual as such. Both writers showed selfishness as an acute problem of society as a whole, as "Japan's state selfishness".

Interesting novels about the activities of Christians in Japan, for example\"Tobacco and the Devil\", \"Giuliano Kitisuke\". It is known that many Christians who came to Japan were swindlers who corrupted the Japanese, or adventurers from trade.

The short story \"Tobacco and the Devil\" tells how the devil, through cunning and deceit, brought and distributed tobacco in Japan. Tobacco refers to Christianity.

The last period of the writer's literary activity is 1921-1927. All works of that period are painted in bright social tones. The writer expressed his rejection of some of the negative aspects of militarism and capitalism of those years in a number of works, including the story \"In the country of the water \". Akutagawa showed the fascistizing Japanese society of the 20s. on the example of the state in which fabulous creatures live - water kappas.

Akutagawa committed suicide on July 24, 1927 by taking a lethal dose of veronal. His suicide shocked friends and acquaintances, but did not become something unexpected for them. No one has ever found out the true cause of his death.

In 1935, his friend, writer and publisher Kikuchi Kan, established the Akutagawa Ryunosuke Prize, which is awarded once a year to young writers in Japan to this day. In terms of the number of literary translations, Akutagawa occupies one of the first places among Japanese writers.