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August 08 , 2009

Books and Habits from the Lectures of Lafcadio Hearn


Books and Habits: Hearn's "Interpretations of Literature," "Appreciations of Poetry," and student notes from his lectures in the University of Tokyo all in one package. "The merit of the chapters printed or reprinted in the present volume seems to me their power to teach us to imagine our familiar traditions as foreign and exotic in the eyes of other peoples... In these chapters, not originally intended for us, we have the piquant and salutary experience of seeing what we look like on at least one occasion when we are the foreigners; we catch at least a glimpse of what to the Orient seems exotic in us, and it does us no harm to observe that the peculiarly Western aspects of our culture are not self-justifying nor always justifiable when looked at through eyes not already disposed in their favour. Hearn was one of the most loyal advocates the West could possibly have sent to the East, but he was an honest artist, and he never tried to improve his case by trimming a fact."According to Wikipedia: "Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (27 June 185026 September 1904), also known as Koizumi Yakum after gaining Japanese citizenship, was an author, best known for his books about Japan. He is especially well-known for his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories, such as Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things... The Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi adapted four Hearn tales into his 1965 film, Kwaidan. Some of his stories have been adapted by Ping Chong into his trademark puppet theatre, including the 1999 Kwaidan and the 2002 OBON: Tales of Moonlight and Rain... Hearn was a major translator of the short stories of Guy de Maupassant. In Ian Fleming's 1964 novel You Only Live Twice, James Bond retorts to his nemesis Blofeld's comment of "Have you ever heard the Japanese expression kirisute gomen?" with "Spare me the Lafcadio Hearn, Blofeld."
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