Encountereds. I came, I saw, I commented.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Akutagawa Ryunosuke - Kappa (2)

The cover blurb calls this a satire on Japanese society and its customs, and when I randomly opened at some place, it indeed seemed a very funny and acerbic recasting of the Japanese into the Kappa. While this turned out to be quite misleading, it also turned me onto a book I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. A lucky turn. The story is of a human being suddenly cast into Kappa society, the Kappa being somewhat malevolent mythological creatures of Japanese rivers, scaly amphibians apt to drag children into the water and drown them. The tone and setting is more than a bit reminiscent of Abbott's Flatland, which Ryunosuke well might have read, and the absurdity of the goings on in the land of the Kappa reminded me of Daniil Kharms, but all in all, this is quite a solitary achievement. Born, as Ryunosuke himself said, out of his disgust with everything, especially himself, this story presents a caricature of humanity unlike anything I've read before.


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