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Asian CrossingsTravel Writing on China, Japan and Southeast Asia$
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Steve Clark and Paul Smethurst

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9789622099142

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622099142.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.163) 11 Shaking the Buddhas: Lafcadio Hearn in Japan, 1890–1904
Source:
Asian Crossings
Author(s):

Taylor David

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789622099142.003.0012

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

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