Books

Edogawa Rampo, Japan’s Answer to Edgar Allan Poe

byAzzahra R Kamila-
edogawa-rampo-japan-mystery
Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination Book Cover Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination
Edogawa Rampo
Mystery, Horror, Suspense, Supernatural
Tuttle Publishing
May 10th 2012 (first published 1956)
Paperback
222

This collection of mystery and horror stories is regarded as Japan's answer to Edgar Allan Poe.

Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, the first volume of its kind translated into English, is written with the quick tempo of the West but rich with the fantasy of the East. These nine bloodcurdling, chilling tales present a genre of literature largely unknown to readers outside Japan, including the strange story of a quadruple amputee and his perverse wife; the record of a man who creates a mysterious chamber of mirrors and discovers hidden pleasures within; the morbid confession of a maniac who envisions a career of foolproof "psychological" murders; and the bizarre tale of a chair-maker who buries himself inside an armchair and enjoys the sordid "loves" of the women who sit on his handiwork.

Lucid and packed with suspense, Edogawa Rampo's stories found in Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination have enthralled Japanese readers for over half a century.

Mystery stories include:
The Human Chair
The Caterpillar
Two Crippled Men
The Traveler with the Pasted Rag Picture

I love almost all of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. The first time I read his short story when I was in high school. Since then, I have my own obsession with the type of psychological thriller and horror stories that are similar to Poe’s ^^

Therefore, when I learned that Edogawa Rampo was the name of the alias of Edgar Allan Poe’s name being read quickly (in the Japanese tongue), I was interested to read his work. How good is that? Because the praises given as if to illustrate that Edogawa Rampo able to write stories like Poe.

Unfortunately, it turns out Edogawa Rampo is not a desirable author like Murakami Haruki and Ishiguro Kazuo. In fact, in Indonesia, only the name Murakami is known ^^ ;. It could be that I am one of the few readers of Rampo’s work here. Well, I do not mind myself, I like being a very-exclusive-person, haha.

If you’ve ever watched Meitantei Conan / Detective Conan, of course you know the name of Edogawa Conan. Yup, Edogawa Conan’s name actually borrowed from Edogawa (Rampo).  Actually, Rampo’s real name is Hirai Taro; it is soordinary that I would not be able to remember it, haha.

Well, finally a couple weeks ago,  I deliberately bought this when Periplus was having an X-Mas discount (because the price of this book is actually quite expensive). I was a bit surprised  when I read the introduction, because the initiative to translate Rampo’s work into English was… like, wow, how come they just realized Rampo is a very intelligent mystery writer? I don’t know what caused the enthusiasm of the West people are almost nonexistent, because in fact in Japan alone the name Rampo is well known.

Actually I’ve read the short story on the internet, the title was “The Human Chair.” I began to believe that he did master the way Poe wrote horror.

There are 9 short stories contained in this book. I’ll just tell you a bit of them. You should buy yourself if interested to read more. Believe me, Rampo’s work is very unique, because almost all of his work can not be found on the internet!

edogawa rampo

 

 The Human Chair

As a writer, Yoshiko often receives letters from people asking for her help regarding their manuscripts. She herself was a pretty successful writer, married to a rich man, and lived in a fine house. Actually she was a bit bored reading those awful manuscripts, until finally there was a strange letter received that day.
The letter tells of a man who works as a chair maker. He works very well and have some workers who help him in the workshop. But the man feels himself unattractive and unskilled, so no woman will like him.
Until one day, the man received a seat order from the hotel. He wanted to make the chair as comfortable as possible, as the requested description. However, there began to arise a strange desire to make the best seats as if the chair can hug and give warmth to everyone who sits …

 The Psychological Test

This is Rampo’s detective story.

Fukuya is a poor student. He has a friend named Saito who lives in a room contracted by rich miserly widows. Saito’s story of the secret treasures of the widow made Fukuya tempted to have it. Fukuya killed her.

At that time, Fukuya did not take all the money, but took a little and put in a wallet. He planned it so well, he will pretend as a  finder of the wallet that was dropped in the street. As per the rules, if not claimed within a certain time, then the wallet will be his. But there was something else that prevented him from possessing it, when Saito was arrested and Kogoro Akechi took part in investigating the case …

For the people of Japan, Kogoro Akechi is a legend in Japanese detective fiction. I was suspicious that Mouri Kogoro (Meitantei Conan) taken from here, as well as Kengo Akechi (Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo). This story emphasizes the “how” rather than “whodunnit”, so for those accustomed to the Agatha Christie story pattern, here will not be found anything like this. In fact, the possibility of him imitating the pattern of detective stories a la Poe, with the main character C. Auguste Dupin, is more accurate.

The Catterpillar

This story was considered taboo, so it had not published by Japanese publishers for years. For me this story is actually quite annoying, spooky, but also miserable ^^

Once, there was a woman named Tokiko who lived alone with her husband in seclusion. Tokiko felt tortured every time she was at home, so she did not mind if occasionally went out of the house when invited by his wife and daughter from his superior husband, General Washio.

Since returning from the war, her husband has become more sensitive. Lieutenant Sunaga did not like to be left too long by his wife. The man often bumps his head in exasperation. The only other way Sunaga could do when communicating with his wife is to write with a pencil on paper using his mouth, because all his legs and hands were amputated …

 

The thing that makes me a little disappointed is  my expectations don’t match with what I want to get after reading these stories. Although there are some good ones, there are also some that make me feel like , “Why you have to make the ending like this?”  If you’ve read Poe’s work before, then surely you know almost every his ending story  is bizzare and full of tragedy. There are even those which don’t have a definite solution.

Rampo may slightly reduce the level of this bizzareness I want to read. The conclusion turned off the anticlimax I was expecting. But overall, I quite like his style of storytelling. Therefore I give rating 3 for this book. At least I am quite satisfied to read 9 stories, and for that I only need to buy it with Rp 168.000.

Has anyone read Rampo or Poe before?

Azzahra R Kamila

Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination Book Cover Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination
Edogawa Rampo
Mystery, Horror, Suspense, Supernatural
Tuttle Publishing
May 10th 2012 (first published 1956)
Paperback
222

This collection of mystery and horror stories is regarded as Japan's answer to Edgar Allan Poe.

Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination, the first volume of its kind translated into English, is written with the quick tempo of the West but rich with the fantasy of the East. These nine bloodcurdling, chilling tales present a genre of literature largely unknown to readers outside Japan, including the strange story of a quadruple amputee and his perverse wife; the record of a man who creates a mysterious chamber of mirrors and discovers hidden pleasures within; the morbid confession of a maniac who envisions a career of foolproof "psychological" murders; and the bizarre tale of a chair-maker who buries himself inside an armchair and enjoys the sordid "loves" of the women who sit on his handiwork.

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Lucid and packed with suspense, Edogawa Rampo's stories found in Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination have enthralled Japanese readers for over half a century.

Mystery stories include:
The Human Chair
The Caterpillar
Two Crippled Men
The Traveler with the Pasted Rag Picture

Her blog has a concern for cruelty free and halal products. Her skepticism makes her doing research about science behind beauty, as she wants to educate readers to carefully choose cosmetics ingredients before buying. In addition to beauty, she also likes to discuss slice of life as well as book reviews.

    2 Comments

    1. Daruma

      Pengen beli dah…
      Galau nih…sumpah jd pengen beli nih buku.

      22 . Jan . 2018
      • Azzahra R Kamila

        Bagus kook hehe

        22 . Jan . 2018

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