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From Folklore To Literature – Hearn And Japanese Legends Of Tree Spirits

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Chapter Summary

In his essay 'In a Japanese Garden', Lafcadio Hearn writes down every small legend, folk song, superstition, etc., about the flowers and trees in his garden. In a word, Hearn simply rejoiced in the abundance of Japanese plant folklore. These first impressions of the trees and his thoughts were to be developed later into stories of tree spirits, included in his last book, Kwaidan (1904). First of all, he added a striking element: that is, the act of 'hara-kiri' performed by a samurai, under the tree. Secondly, in Hearn's story, it is the ancient character of the tree that the samurai cherishes and dies for. The author feels sure his folk tales will outlive all disputes and evaluations. They will live on, not only as literature in the English language, but as a part of the Japanese imagination.

Keywords: hara-kiri; Japanese plant folklore; Kwaidan; Lafcadio Hearn; samurai

10.1163/ej.9781905246267.i-284.14
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9781905246267.i-284.14
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