Yoav Rosen On:
Rashōmon by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Actually, it is Akutagawa’s short story, “In a Grove,” which is the so-called real Rashomon story: the testimonies of seven characters on a single case of death, rape, and robbery. Since it was first published in 1915, the Rashomon effect has become a prominent cultural term, referring to multiple points of view that reveal different interpretations of a single incident. The following story is more compact in scope: one night, in pouring rain, under the Rashōmon – the gate to the ancient city of Kyoto, capital of 12th century Japan – an unemployed servant and a poor, old woman encounter one another. The story’s plot is tight, and progresses rather fast. “Rashōmon” is an insightful, cruel story, which holds a disturbing, convincing notion: that truth can be revealed as relative and partial, rather than absolute, and might change from one person to the next. Everything – simply everything – may depend on a point of view.