The Life of a Stupid Man by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

I fell in love with the 80 little black Penguin Classics as soon as they came out and had to choose at least one to purchase so I took it as an opportunity to broaden my horizons and read something different.

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa was a Japanese author who lived from 1892 to 1927 and this selection of stories was taken from Jay Rubin’s 2006 translation of Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories.

I am really glad that I read this despite it being out of my comfort zone. This tiny collection consists of two autobiographical pieces and one short fictional story. Honestly the fiction was my favourite piece and if I was rating that alone I would have given it a 5 out of 5 stars, but the non-fiction was just a little too short for me to become invested. With regards to the writing style, Akutagawa has a very poetic  yet simple style that definitely draws you in and is enchanting, but I’m unsure whether I will go out and read something else by him. I liked this collection and would recommend it if you already love Japanese fiction or you want to try something new.

2 out of 5 stars!



  1. I think this collection is super fun too! I’d love to pick up some the next time. I haven’t read any Japanese authors yet, but reading them in a short little book like this seems like a good way to get into the genre.

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