Edogawa Rampo  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Edogawa Rampo, also Edogawa Ranpo, (October 21, 1894 - July 28, 1965) was a Japanese author and critic. He wrote many works of detective fiction. Kogoro Akechi was the primary detective of these novels.

Rampo was a great admirer of western mystery writers, and especially of Edgar Allan Poe. The pseudonym "Edogawa Rampo" is actually a Japanese rendering of Poe's name. Other authors who were special influences on him were Maurice Leblanc and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

His work has been adapted to film many times. A slightly fictionalized Rampo is the main character of the 1994 film The Mystery of Rampo. The 2005 anthology film Rampo Jigoku (aka Rampo Noir), starring Tadanobu Asano, adapts four of his short stories.

Rampo's work has been influential to the ero guro nansensu style of pinku eiga, particularly of the 1960s and 70s, such as Teruo Ishii's Horror of the Malformed Men (1969) and Yasuzo Masumura's Blind Beast (1969), both based on the works of Rampo.

Biographical Information

Tarō Hirai was born in Mie Prefecture in 1894. He grew up in Nagoya and studied economics at Waseda University starting in 1912. After graduating in 1916 he worked a series of odd jobs, including newspaper editing and selling soba noodles as a street vendor.

In 1923 he wrote his first mystery story, "The Two-Sen Copper Coin." (Nisen Dõka, 二銭銅貨). The story was soon published under the nom de plume "Edogawa Rampo" by the magaizine "Shin Seinen," which had also published stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and GK Chesterton. Although there is a history of crime literature in Japan, this is generally acknowledged to be the first original modern-style Japanese mystery story.

He later went on to found and head the Japan Mystery Writers' Club.

Rampo could understand spoken English, but could not speak or read well. He and his translator, James B. Harris, collaborated for five years on the first English translation of some of his stories.

Thematic Elements

  • Many of Rampo's characters are preoccupied with planning and executing a "perfect crime."
  • Mirrors, lenses, and other optical devices appear in many of Rampo's stories and as symbols of distorted or heightened reality.
  • Many of Rampo's stories include characters who were wounded or disfigured during World War I.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Edogawa Rampo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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