Fiction. Asian Studies. Translated from the Japanese by Anthony Barnett and Toraiwa Naoko. Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892-1927) is one of 20th Japan's great storytellers. He is best known in the West for the story "Rashomon", "Rasho Gate", which, with another of his short stories as primary source, "Within a Grove", was the inspiration behind Kurosawa's film Rashomon. Akutagawa read widely in world literature. He graduated from Tokyo University with a thesis on William Morris. His mentor was the great novelistNatsume Soseki, who had lived in London at the turn of the century. Akutagawa's writings include reworkings of motifs and tales of China's and Japan's past, modern fables, essays, and a few autobiographical fictions which, like A FOOL'S LIFE, follow his intense engagement and difficulty with the world. He ended his brief life the month after completing A FOOL'S LIFE. Anthony Barnett is a poet and music historian. His books include the collected The Resting Bell (1987) and selected Miscanthus (2005). He wrote a Masters on the Theory and Practice of Literary Translation at University of Essex in 1978. Hewas visiting scholar at the Center for International Programs, Meiji University, Tokyo in 2002. His other translations include Albiach, O. Berg, Delahaye, Giroux, Lagerkvist, Vesaas, Zanzotto. His writing is most recently surveyed in Ian Brinton's volume Contemporary British Poetry: Poetry Since 1990. Dr Toraiwa naoko is Professor of English at Meiji University. She received her doctorate from University of Sussex and divides her time between Japan and England.