Interpretations of Literature - Vol. 1

Interpretations of Literature - Vol. 1

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Interpretations of Literature - Vol. 1

Interpretations of Literature - Vol. 1

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Excerpt

Lafcadio Hearn, in his books the interpreter of the Japanese genius to the western world, held the chair of Englishliterature in the University of Tokyo from 1896 to 1902. It has not been sufficiently recognised that in his classroom for those six years he was the interpreter also of the western world to Japan. By the merest chance, it seems, our literature, and through literature our civilisation, found in this extraordinary critic and teacher such an ambassador to the mind of the Far East as we are not likely to find again. Others as well as he have explained Japan to the West, but who else has explained the West to Japan? It is with a sense, therefore, of the historical as well as of the literary importance of his lectures that this selection from them has been made.

In lecturing, Lafcadio Hearn used no notes, but for the convenience of his class, who were listening to a foreign language, he dictated slowly, and certain of his abler students managed to take down long passages, whole lectures, even a series of lectures, word for word. The names of these young men are recorded with gratitude--M. Otani, R. Tanabe, T. Ochiai, S. Uchigasaki, R. Ishikawa, S. Ibaraki, M. Kurihara, and S. Kobinata. After Lafcadio Hearn's death these students, with a devotion to his memory in which all his pupils shared, placed their notes at the disposal of Pay Director Mitchell McDonald, U. S. N., Hearn's friend and literary executor. One beautiful lecture on "Naked Poetry," from the notes of T. Ochiai, was included in the second volume of Elizabeth Bisland "Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn. . . . . . ."

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