Edogawa Rampo bigraphy, stories - Literary

Edogawa Rampo : biography

October 21, 1894 - July 28, 1965

, better known by the pseudonym , was a Japanese author and critic who played a major role in the development of Japanese mystery fiction. Many of his novels involve the detective hero Kogoro Akechi, who in later books was the leader of a group of boy detectives known as the .

Rampo was an admirer of western mystery writers, and especially of Edgar Allan Poe. His pen name is a rendering of Poe's name."Edgar Allan Poe" →「エドガー・アラン・ポー("Edogaa aran poo")」→"Edogaaaranpo"→"Edogawa ranpo"(えどがわ・らんぽ)→江戸川乱歩.The Edo River (in Japanese, Edogawa) empties into Tokyo Bay. Rampo means "random walk". Other authors who were special influences on him were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whom he attempted to translate into Japanese during his days as a student at Waseda University, and the Japanese mystery writer Ruikō Kuroiwa.

Major works

Stories involving Kogorō Akechi

Other stories

  • Based on the adaption of the Meiji-period adaptation of Alice Muriel Williamson's A Woman in Grey by .


Before World War II

Tarō Hirai was born in Nabari, Mie Prefecture in 1894, where his grandfather was a samurai in the service of Tsu Domain. The family moved to what is now Kameyama, Mie, and from there to Nagoya when he was age two. He studied economics at Waseda University starting in 1912. After graduating in 1916 with a degree in economics he worked a series of odd jobs, including newspaper editing, drawing cartoons for magazine publications, selling soba noodles as a street vendor, and working in a used bookstore.

In 1923 he made his literary debut by publishing the mystery story under the pen name "Edogawa Rampo" (pronounced quickly, this humorous pseudonym sounds much like the name of the American pioneer of detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, whom he admired). The story appeared in the magazine Shin Seinen, a popular magazine written largely for an adolescent audience. Shin Seinen had previously published stories by a variety of Western authors including Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and G. K. Chesterton, but this was the first time the magazine published a major piece of mystery fiction by a Japanese author. Some, such as James B. Harris (Ranpo's first translator into English), have erroneously called this the first piece of modern mystery fiction by a Japanese writer, but well before Ranpo entered the literary scene in 1923, a number of other modern Japanese authors such as Ruikō Kuroiwa, Kidō Okamoto, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Haruo Satō, and Kaita Murayama had incorporated elements of sleuthing, mystery, and crime within stories involving adventure, intrigue, the bizarre, and the grotesque.Angles, Writing the Love of Boys, pp. 159-160. What struck critics as new about Ranpo’s debut story "The Two-Sen Copper Coin" was that it focused on the logical process of ratiocination used to solve a mystery within a story that is closely related to Japanese culture.Kozakai Fuboku, "'Ni-sen dōka' o yomu", Shin seinen 4.5 (Apr 1923): 264-65. The story involves an extensive description of an ingenious code based on a Buddhist incantation known as the "nenbutsu" as well as Japanese-language Braille.Edogawa, "The Two-Sen Copper Coin", pp. 270-271.

Over the course of the next several years, Edogawa went on to write a number of other stories that focus on crimes and the processes involved in solving them. Among these stories are a number of stories that are now considered classics of early 20th-century Japanese popular literature: , which is about a woman who is killed in the course of a sadomasochistic extramarital affair,Edogawa, Rampo. "D-zaka no Satsujin Jiken." Shinseinen Jan 1925 special ed.: 26-27. , which is about a man who kills a neighbor in a Tokyo boarding house by dropping poison through a hole in the attic floor into his mouth,Translated in Edogawa, The Edogawa Rampo Reader. and , which is about a man who hides himself in a chair to feel the bodies on top of him.Translated in Edogawa, Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Mirrors, lenses, and other optical devices appear in many of Edogawa's other early stories, such as "The Hell of Mirrors".

Living octopus

Living octopus

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