Ryunosuke Akutagawa

In a Grove

«In a Grove» is an early modernist short story consisting of seven varying accounts of the murder of a samurai, Kanazawa no Takehiro, whose corpse has been found in a bamboo forest near Kyoto. Each section simultaneously clarifies and obfuscates what the reader knows about the murder, eventually creating a complex and contradictory vision of events that brings into question humanity's ability or willingness to perceive and transmit objective truth. It is the basis for Kurosawa's “Rashoumon.”
(from Wikipedia)
Note: The original Japanese text version is also available on Feedbooks at http://www.feedbooks.com/book/4204
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    The story is naturally entertaining, shining a light on the Japanese warrior attitude. Even though it isn't profound or unique, it is good fun and easy to follow, the characters go beyond simple murder mystery archetypes and all have unique and fun perspectives to offer on such a dire and dark topic. The short story does well thematically with the idea of morality and culture for this very reason, but still takes you on a hell of a fun ride through the Japanese landscape and ways of Bushido whilst not denouncing those ways nor applauding them necessarily. If you love Western murder mystery stories, are obsessed with Japan and the Samurai or just want a short fun book, read this.

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    The most spirited woman is defenseless without a weapon.
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    Am I the only one who kills people? You, you don't use your swords. You kill people with your power, with your money. Sometimes you kill them on the pretext of working for their good. It's true they don't bleed. They are in the best of health, but all the same you've killed them. It's hard to say who is a greater sinner, you or me.

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