RYUNOSUKE AKUTAGAWA (1892–1927) was a Japanese author, best known for the novel Kappa and the prize, the most prestigious in Japanese literature, named in his honour. Born in Tokyo, he was a precocious child who took an interest in Chinese literature and the works of Natsume Soseki from an early age. His love of reading transformed into a love of writing, particularly short stories. He was the author of over a hundred short stories, as well as translations of the works of Anatole France and Yeats. Akutagawa was regarded as a major author during his lifetime, and the Akutagawa Prize, established after his suicide at the age of thirty-five, is now one of Japan’s most prestigious literary awards and has been won by writers such as Shusaku Endo and Kenzaburō Ōe. Two of the stories from his collection Rashomon formed the basis of the award-winning film of the same title by Akira Kurosawa. Plagued by mental health conditions his entire life, Akutagawa committed suicide by an overdose in 1927.
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