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Hearn And ‘Orpheus’ – His Art Of Retelling Stories Of Old Japan

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Chapter Summary

The book Kwaidan, which means weird tales, is probably the most famous of all Lafcadio Hearn's works. This chapter focuses on the first story in this book, which also happens to be the best known one: 'The Story of Mimi-nashi-Hōïchi' (which means, Hōïchi the Earless). It indicates how Hearn had projected the image of a Greek mythological figure, namely Orpheus, onto a seemingly genuine Japanese medieval character, and moreover, what meaning this story bears, for the author himself and also in relation to his place in the history of literature. Orpheus, needless to say, is a symbolic figure of an artist in the literary tradition of the West. 'The Story of Mimi-nashi-Hōïchi', seemingly an old Japanese ghost story, but in fact a recreation of Hearn, has spread widely and deeply into the imagination of the Japanese people.

Keywords: Japanese medieval character; Kwaidan; Lafcadio Hearn; Orpheus; The Story of Mimi-nashi-Hōïchi

10.1163/ej.9781905246267.i-284.15
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