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Hell Screen (Penguin Mini Modern Classics) Paperback – 15 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (15 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014119572X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141195728
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.6 x 16.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ryunosuke Akutagawa, short-story writer, poet, and essayist, one of the first Japanese modernists translated into English. He was born in Tokyo in 1892, and began writing for student publications at the age of ten. He graduated from Tokyo University in 1916 with an English Literature degree and worked as a teacher before becoming a full time writer in 1919. His mother had gone mad suddenly just months after his birth and he was plagued by fear of inherited insanity all his life. He killed himself in 1927.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 2 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
An interesting read, Akutagawa's story of the painter charged with capturing hell may seem unusual at first, but the excellent vivid description throughout turn a tedious morality tale into something dark and brooding.

The translation is good, enabling the story to flow well. I've never read Akutagawa before, and I found his narration style very unusual with various jumps ahead and back again in the story's timescale.

Sadly I didn't find any of the characters endearing as such, a shame, as a story to me becomes considerably more difficult to enjoy when not one character can be epathised with. Hell Screen is still an interesting read, though I am not sure whether I would recommend it. If you've read a few of the new Penguin series (mini modern classics) and enjoy this type of fiction, then for the price, it is worth an attempt.
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By D. J. H. Thorn TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
'Hell Screen' is a superb piece of storytelling. A renowned artist is given the task of depicting hell by the local ruler and throws himself into the work rather too literally. The story is narrated conversationally by an unnamed court bystander and the author winds up the tension as the story progresses. I disagree with the view that there are no characters to empathise with; one can easily identify with the situation of the artist's daughter.

'Hell Screen' comes in a pocket-sized 50-page book with the very short cautionary tale, 'The Spider Thread' tacked on after it. I bought it as part of the Penguin Mini Modern Classics 50-volume boxed set which, at about 1.50 per volume halved the cost of the cover price of individual volumes.
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Format: Paperback
Two exquisite tales of medieval Japan that tell of artistic integrity, sin, and the tortuous vengeance of the Buddhist hells. The prose reads effortlessly, and the stories are tempered in perfect balance like dew resting on morning grass. The short collection is all the evidence needed to show that Akutagawa was, without a doubt, the first master of the Japanese short story.
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