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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

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

Taylor David

Hong Kong University Press

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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