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Hearn: Interpreter Of The Animistic World Of The Japanese

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Chapter Summary

Lafcadio Hearn's popularity in Japan derives mostly from his book Kwaidan published in 1904. As is known, the literary artist Hearn rewrote ghost stories in English, by carefully listening to Japanese originals told by his Japanese wife Setsuko. Japanese readers appreciate Hearn's delicate understanding of the ghostly world of the Japanese. The author adds that Hearn understood not only the animistic world of the Japanese but also that of the inhabitants of the French West Indies. In the Japanese animistic religion of Shinto not only animated beings but also trees, rocks, mountains and winds have a spirit or a ghost of their own. Hearn's penetration into the religious world of the Japanese is remarkable. The Japanese world of the dead began to be familiar to Lafcadio's mind's eye, as it has many similarities to the Irish world of the dead, with which Lafcadio was familiar in his childhood.

Keywords: Japanese animistic world; Kwaidan; Lafcadio Hearn; Setsuko; Shinto



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