Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Postmodernism in Ryunosuke Akutagawa's "In a Grove"
Authors: Pal, Abhisek
Keywords: Modernism
Issue Date: 27-Feb-2022
Publisher: Registrar, Vidyasagar University, Midnapore.
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English. Vol. 15 2022;
Abstract: Japanese Modernism in the Taisho period (1912-1926) saw the literary innovations of Ryunosuke Akutagawa who belonged to a group of authors formed around the magazine, Shinshicho. Akutagawa's short story "In a Grove", published in 1922 and later adapted by Akira Kurosawa into the 1950 film Rashomon, records seven mutually irreconcilable accounts of a scene involving rape and murder. With the benefit of hindsight, this paper intends to argue that the short story, though a landmark in Japanese Modernism, anticipates Postmodernism in the history of Japanese literature with its experimental narrative technique. In the story, the seven warring accounts emphasize the subjective and fragmented experience of reality and the impossibility of an omniscient narrator, all of which are traits usually foregrounded in Modernist texts. Yet the story encroaches upon postmodernist territories by incorporating multiple points of view, unreliable narrators, nonlinear storytelling and absence of a singular or coherent "truth". While the testimonies of the witnesses, the confession of the rapist Tajomaru and the prayer of the survivor Masago set the story's realist trajectory, the last section with Masago's dead husband's words told through a medium subverts the realist bent and adds a supernatural quality to the story, using fabulation which postmodern magic realist narratives abound with. The story marks the loss of the real and the death of the author as its open-endedness allows readers to try filling the gaps with their own interpretation and bias. The portrayal of Masago is disparate in a way that it reinforces the patriarchal stereotypes and fantasies imposed on women, but also makes the readers think if they should "trust the victim". Akutagawa's classic short story, representative of his dismissal of metanarratives in his own literary career, thus plants the seeds of Postmodern fiction in the annus mirabilis of literary Modernism.
ISSN: 0973-3671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 15 [2022]

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
01. Vol. 15 2022 Abhisek Pal.pdf387.07 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.