Patient X: The Case-Book of Ryunosuke Akutagawa

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This is not a conventional biography but non linear impressions of a life. The subject is Ryunosuke Akutagawa, one of the most famous Japanese writers of short stories. He also translated English poetry and wanted a fusion of literary cultures. He wrote over one hundred and fifty short stories, the most famous of which is Rashomon which was made into a film which received world wide acclaim. He died in 1927 by suicide when he was only thirty-five.

Because of the very personal and impressionistic writing of this book, it was difficult for me to get any sense of the author’s style or of his subject’s actual life. The author takes episodes of a life and weaves a dreamlike setting around the occurrences. We get to know the subject prenatally, for example, as his father speaks to him while he is in his mother’s womb. Perhaps this is to evoke Akutagawa’s own writing style which relies on different vantage points to tell a story. I wish I could have followed this confusing narrative. Perhaps those better acquainted with the author and his subject will have better luck.

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Star Count 2/5
Format Hard
Page Count 312 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2018-Sep-04
ISBN 9780525521778 Buy this Book
Issue February 2019
Category Modern Literature


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