Five unpublished notebook pages written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927), one of modern Japan’s best known writers, have been found in an antique bookstore in Tokyo’s Kanda district, researchers said Saturday.
The notes were apparently part of a collection of tales of folklore, specters, phantoms and ghosts that Akutagawa assembled while in high school, the researchers said.
Most of the collection was published by Iwanami Shoten Publishers in Tokyo.
Each page contains, on both sides, what appear to be partial notes of tales, quotes from poems and other memos.
The pages should shed some light on some of Akutagawa’s later writings, the researchers said.
One passage from the notes describes a mummy with “its face and wrists in a somber color like dried tobacco leaves” wearing “a small golden ring with blue beads” on a wrist that came out of a coffin.
The passage reads that the mummy “smiled, stroking his hands and showing his tongue in black.”
The pages also include hand-drawn illustrations such as portraits of a person with roughed-up hair, an Egyptian and a mummy dressed in a Japanese samurai costume.
The newly found pages will be presented at an auction of antique books scheduled to take place from July 6 at Tokyo Kosho Kaikan in Kanda.
Akutagawa’s writings comprise poetry, essays and short stories that range from the humorous to the satirical and grotesque.
Some of his works are translated into English, including “Rashomon,” “Yabu no Naka” (“In a Grove,”) “Kappa” and “Jigokuhen” (“Hell Screen.”)
Eight years after he committed suicide at the age of 35, the Akutagawa Prize was established and is now one of Japan’s most coveted literary awards.
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