This collection of stories amply testifies to the genius of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, a writer whose work is considered classical and yet continues to excite readers as if he were a new voice bursting onto the literary scene today. Works like In a Bamboo Grove and Rashomon, which Akira Kurosawa combined into the screenplay for the renowned film Rashomon, typify Akutagawa’s brilliance at scene-setting and composition. Like these two stories, Hell Screen, and others, many of his short works are inspired by tales from Heian-period (794?1185) classics such as Konjaku monogatari-shu (tr. Tales of Times Now Past) and Uji shui monogatari (tr. A Collection of Tales from Uji). Others take place during the Edo period (1603?1867), or in China, or have an Indian protagonist, as in The Spider Thread. Whatever the setting, Akutagawa masterfully employs a vast palette of literary styles to make plot and dialogue come alive. Among the voices he assumes at will are the modern Japanese of his own era, the Taisho (1912?26), classical Japanese, old epistolary-style sorobun, Chinese-based kanbun, and pseudo-Chinese. In addition to 18 representative stories, the English edition, translated by Jay Rubin, has an introduction by Haruki Murakami. A French edition, Une vague inquietude, contains three stories: Torokko (tr. Le wagonnet), Giwaku (tr. Un doute), and Hyottoko (tr. Dans Le masque).