Ryünosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) is one of Japan?s foremost stylists - a modernist master whose short stories are marked by highly original imagery, cynicism, beauty and wild humour. ?Rashömon? and ?In a Bamboo Grove? inspired Kurosawa?s magnificent film and depict a past in which morality is turned upside down, while tales such as ?The Nose?, ?O-Gin? and ?Loyalty? paint a rich and imaginative picture of a medieval Japan peopled by Shoguns and priests, vagrants and peasants. And in later works such as ?Death Register?, ?The Life of a Stupid Man? and ?Spinning Gears?, Akutagawa drew from his own life to devastating effect, revealing his intense melancholy and terror of madness in exquisitely moving impressionistic stories.