Shaking the Buddhas: Lafcadio Hearn in Japan, 1890–1904

Taylor David

in Asian Crossings

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9789622099142
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206632 | DOI:
Shaking the Buddhas: Lafcadio Hearn in Japan, 1890–1904

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This chapter analyzes Lafcadio Hearn, who may be seen as an early cultural hybrid and product of proto-globalization: of Greek-Irish origin, raised in Ireland and England, working as a journalist in the United States and the West Indies before settling in Japan (assuming both citizenship and the name of Yakumo Koizumi). It also evaluates Hearn's success as resting on a professional dexterity which mediates a fiction of Japan's cultural authenticity while accommodating anxiety over a growing industrialized nation state. His decidedly partial representation of Japan as a self-conscious creation invites reassessment as travel writing, both as a negotiation with a journalistic marketplace and as an aesthetic construct in its own right. Any just appraisal of Hearn, particularly of his Japan writings, may commend a nuanced, finely constructed style, which elevates sharp anecdotal detail and cultural reportage into an accomplished, humane oeuvre, of its time, but enduring.

Keywords: Lafcadio Hearn; Japan; proto-globalization; cultural authenticity; travel writing; Japan writings

Chapter.  6691 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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