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Return To Japan Or Return To The West? – Hearn’s ‘A Conservative’

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Chapter Summary

Many Japanese writers' returns to Japan from a real or spiritual pilgrimage to the West seem to follow a psychological pattern. This chapter discusses this phenomenon by using the American writer Lafcadio Hearn's 'A Conservative', as the story poignantly describes a typical case of a modern Japanese intellectual's return to a Japan of nostalgia from his pilgrimage to an idealized Europe and America. During the Meiji period (1868-1912) the trend towards a 'return to Japan' was already evident in the 1890s, when Lafcadio Hearn wrote 'A Conservative', a short story that he included in Kokoro (1896). The fact that many Japanese readers of Hearn (among others Takeyama Michio) have been moved by the story 'A Conservative' testifies to the authenticity of its contents, especially author Hearn's intimate understanding of the Japanese psyche.

Keywords: A Conservative; America; Europe; Japan; Kokoro; Lafcadio Hearn; Meiji period



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