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‘Weird Beauty’: Angela Carter And Lafcadio Hearn In Japan

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Chapter Summary

Lafcadio Hearn and Angela Carter make an unlikely pair. Carter, female, tall, resolutely English, outspoken, brazen, full of wild surmise and outrageous humour, was a steady, if somewhat cultish success from the moment she started writing and publishing in the 1960s. Hearn, on the other hand, small, reticent, half-blind, a misfit and recluse, was never quite Irish or Greek or American or Japanese, and spent much of his life as an impoverished failure. It does not seem mere coincidence that two writers with an interest in 'weird beauty 'were attracted to Japan. With its own rich tradition of ghost stories, hauntings, cannibalism and animal lovers, Japan provides plenty of material for the Gothic imagination. In comparison with Carter's ironic anti-exoticist stories, Hearn's tales of Japan, his sketches, glimpses, folk tales and fairy stories, seem rather naïve, yet they remain immensely readable.

Keywords: Angela Carter; cannibalism; ghost stories; Gothic imagination; Japan; Lafcadio Hearn

10.1163/ej.9781905246267.i-284.26
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