American writings

Lafcadio Hearn

«A singular figure in American letters, Lafcadio Hearn (1850–1904) had a life as complex as his heritage: born on a Greek isle of a Greek mother and an English father, raised in Europe, he made his name as a writer in the United States before settling permanently in Japan. Steeped in a decadent style, deeply interested in folk traditions (notably voodoo), Hearn has a keenly observant eye for the offbeat, the sensual, and the gruesome. In novels such as Chita, about a devastating tropical tidal wave, and Youma, about a slave rebellion in Martinique, as well as in a wealth of journalistic reports, Hearn left unrivaled first-hand portraits of the black and creole cultures of New Orleans, Cincinnati, and the French West Indies. His extraordinary travel book Two Years in the French West Indies is presented here with its original illustrations. Some Chinese Ghosts, a stylized retelling of ancient legends, foreshadows his later fascination with Asian themes. The volume is rounded out with a revealing selection of impassioned letters, eight of which are published unexpurgated here for the first time.»

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