Hearn, Lafcadio

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hearn, Lafcadio

Lafcadio Hearn (lăfkä´dēō hûrn), 1850–1904, American-Japanese author, b. Lefkás, Ionian Islands, of Irish-Greek parentage. He was educated in Ireland, England, and France before immigrating to the United States in 1869. Handicapped by partial blindness, Hearn was a colorful, imaginative, but morbidly discontented man, who was most admired for his sensitive use of language in writing about the macabre and in creating strange exotic moods. Hearn first attracted attention with the originality and highly polished style of his "Fantastics," a series of weird sketches that appeared in a New Orleans paper. His first published book was One of Cleopatra's Nights (1882), a translation of six Gautier stories. In 1890 he went to Japan to write a series of articles for an American publisher. There he spent the rest of his life, writing what is considered his best work. He married a Japanese woman, taught in Japanese universities, and became a Japanese citizen in 1895, taking the name Yakumo Koizumi. Of his 12 books written during this period, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (1894), Kokoro (1896), Japanese Fairy Tales (1902), and Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation (1904) are most memorable.

See biography by E. Stevenson (1961).

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