Lafcadio Hearn
March 13, 2003 3:44 AM   Subscribe

In Ghostly Japan, by Lafcadio Hearn, an "American author who lived in Japan, becoming a naturalized citizen, from 1891. His 1904 volume Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things is perhaps the work for which he is best known today; it continues to serve as an introduction of non-Western supernaturalism to a Western audience".[more]
posted by hama7 (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A self-introduction [pdf], and K. Inadomi's library.
posted by hama7 at 3:45 AM on March 13, 2003

Lafcadio Hearn is awesome; I was first exposed when I ran across a copy of Kwaidan at Project Gutenberg. (My favorite stories from that volume are Hoichi the Earless and Diplomacy, though they are all good. The Butterfly haiku are also priceless.)
posted by kaibutsu at 3:57 AM on March 13, 2003

oh, and if you like Hearn, you may also want to check out the fiction of Izumi Kyoka, who has been called the Poe of Japan. There's an excellent edition of his story "The Saint of Mount Koya" here. [pdf] He played a lot with the idea of a meta-story, and this is one example of that. His later work tended to be more formalistic; this early work is one of his best known stories, clear and expressive.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:08 AM on March 13, 2003

Fogive my pedantry, but I just want to point out that Hearn was Anglo-Irish - born in Greece to an Anglo-Irish family and raised in Dublin, Ireland.

While he emigrated to America, he wasn't American. The best thing to call him might be Japanese, as he became a citizen of Japan.
posted by tomcosgrave at 4:09 AM on March 13, 2003

he wasn't American

Would you believe: he was?
posted by hama7 at 4:26 AM on March 13, 2003

See also the film version of Kwaidan (or, as the film is titled, Kaidan). I've shown the first segment to students, who seem to divide along "it's hokey!" or "its creepy!" lines.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:00 AM on March 13, 2003

Beautiful, hama7 - thanks. Here in Portugal, we have a high regard for our own Lafcadio Hearn, Wencleslau de Moraes, far superior, of course. ;)

There are a lot of interesting links here, from the Paris branch of our Gulbenkian Foundation (in French).

There's something about Japan, is there not? It's supposed to be very difficult to return from there - and it's not too difficult to imagine why.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:34 AM on March 13, 2003

Kwaidan (or, as the film is titled, Kaidan)

That's because the Japanese word is kaidan (it means 'ghost story'). Hearn's spelling reflects a long-vanished pronunciation; it's as if a foreigner were to transliterate "Gloucester" into his own writing system as "Glowsester" rather than "Gloster."

Oh, and the movie is great!
posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on March 13, 2003

Perhaps a little off-topic, but when I hit Mr. Wise's IMDB link, I realized that one of these stories (Hearn calls it "Yuki-Onna", and the movie calls it "The Woman in the Snow") has also been on an episode of a Canadian educational show called MythQuest. It was pretty well done, though obviously not too scary as it's more just aimed at getting young'uns interested in ancient myth and stuff. The only other episode I saw was about Orpheus, but I liked The Sandman's version better, so meh.

Also - Excellent link, hama7. Love the dialogue in these stories!
posted by Monster_Zero at 8:34 AM on March 13, 2003

Would you believe: he was?

It doesn't say on that page, but having done some research leads me to believe you are correct and I am wrong.

Sorry Hama. I do still think he might best be considered as Japanese, though,
posted by tomcosgrave at 8:55 AM on March 13, 2003

Yukio Mishima is also a great Japanese author.

Ive been reading a book by Lafcadio called "A Japanese Miscellany"

very very good good
posted by Satapher at 9:04 AM on March 13, 2003

Yukio Mishima is also a great Japanese author

Mishima - A mad genius, if ever there was one. I really like what I've read of his work, although the third book in his masterpiece (Temple of Dawn) is something I've found difficult to get into.
posted by tomcosgrave at 9:14 AM on March 13, 2003

When Hearn lived in New Orleans, he also opened a restaurant and published America's first Creole cookbook (sadly, I cannot find an etext online). According to an essay by food writer John Thorne, he left New Orleans at least in part due to the miserable financial failure of both ventures.

(Off-topic -- Thomas J. Wise, if you're willing to break your well-kept shield of anonymity, would you be willing to drop me an email? Thank you.)
posted by snarkout at 1:55 PM on March 13, 2003

Funny, the only Lafcadio i Know is Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back.
posted by o2b at 3:13 PM on March 13, 2003

Just bought Kwaidan on Amazon. Thanks for the recommendations.
posted by Hildago at 4:59 PM on March 13, 2003

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