Hearn, Lafcadio

Hearn, Lafcadio

(lăfkä`dēō hûrn), 1850–1904, American-Japanese author, b. Lefkás, Ionian Islands, of Irish-Greek parentage. After a difficult childhood, 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 lurid local stories for the Cincinnati Enquirer and later for "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 GautierGautier, Théophile
, 1811–72, French poet, novelist, and critic. He was a leading exponent of "art for art's sake"—the belief that formal, aesthetic beauty is the sole purpose of a work of art.
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 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 14 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. In all, he wrote 29 books, among them travel books, cookbooks, novels, ghost stories, folktales, and proverb dictionaries.


See E. Bisland, ed., The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn (2 vol., 1906, repr. 2001) and The Japanese Letters of Lafcadio Hearn (1910, repr. 2015); biography by E. Stevenson (1961).

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Hearn, (Patricio) Lafcadio (Tessima Carlos)

(1850–1904) writer, translator; born on the island of Lefkas, Greece. Son of a Greek mother and an Irish doctor with the British army, after age six he was raised in Ireland, England, and France. He came to the U.S.A. in 1869 and, settling in Cincinnati, became a journalist and translator (of French). In 1877 he went to New Orleans and as a journalist and translator, also began to publish his own stories, usually involving the exotic or macabre and drawing on local lore. From 1887–89 he lived on Martinique in the West Indies. In 1890 Harpers' New Monthly Magazine sent him to Japan to write a series of articles. He would stay in Japan for the rest of his life—becoming a teacher, marrying a Japanese woman, and taking citizenship there as Koizumi Yakumo. He published a series of books that offered the West its first thoughtful, sympathetic view of Japanese culture, most memorably Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation (1904).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hearn, Lafcadio. "Voices of Dawn." Lafcadio Hearn's Creole Cook Book.