Sadly, Akutagawa's stories were among the first translated when Japanese literature became an academic field in America. Not that his stories aren't worthy of translation. After all, who hasn't at least heard of the film 'Rashomon,' the very title of which has entered the English language? The unfortunate aspect of this is that Akutagawa's stories have often been translated by individuals who are far from proficient in the Japanese language. And these decades-old translations are still the only ones available in English, in spite of their shortcomings.
Sadly, this recently-published collection of Akutagawa's stories is not the sorely-needed volume of new and skilled translations that the author deserves. Instead, it is a repackaging of the same old versions that have been making the rounds in various volumes of Japanese literature for decades. Granted, there have been a small number of editorial updates. Even so, countless egregious errors in translation still stare forth from the pages of this book ('Cogwheels' is unrecognizable when compared to the original, and nothing short of incompetent). And far from being an "essential" volume of the stories of Akutagawa, this could more accurately be described as a rogue's gallery of well-intended misfires in the history of Japanese literature.