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Lafcadio Hearn, A Reappraisal

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Chapter Summary

One of the most conspicuous differences between American perceptions of Japan and Japanese perceptions of America in the field of literature is the enduring popularity of the American writer Lafcadio Hearn among ordinary people of Japan and, since the Second World War, the low esteem of Hearn among American academics. The main character of Bokut Ōkidan went so far as to name the two novels written by Hearn, Chita and Youma, as good examples of scene painting. It is not easy for outsiders to understand the Japanese native religion Shinto, while it is easy for them to condemn it as the spiritual force that backed the wartime Japanese nationalism. Together with the French poet Paul Claudel, Hearn was a rare Westerner who was able to penetrate the world of the Japanese dead.

Keywords: America; Chita; Japan; Lafcadio Hearn; Second World War; Shinto



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