Lafcadio Hearn
The Soul of the Great Bell
Journalist and writer on Japan, son of an Irish Army surgeon and of a Greek lady, b. in Leucadia, Ionian Islands, lost his parents early, and was sent home to be taken charge of by an aunt in Wales, a Roman Catholic. On her death, when he was still a boy, he was left penniless, delicate, and half blind, and after experiencing great hardships; in spite of which he educated himself, he took to journalism. Going to New Orleans he attained a considerable reputation as a writer with a distinctly individual style. He came under the influence of Herbert Spencer, and devoted himself largely to the study of social questions. After spending three years in the French West Indies, he was in 1890 sent by a publisher to Japan to write a book on that country, and there he remained, becoming a naturalised subject, taking the name of Yakomo Koizumi, and marrying a Japanese lady. He lectured on English literature in the Imperial University at Tokio. Though getting nearer than, perhaps, any other Western to an understanding of the Japanese, he felt himself to the end to be still an alien. Among his writings, which are distinguished by acute observation, imagination, and descriptive power of a high order, are Stray Leaves from Strange Literature (1884), Some Chinese Ghosts (1887), Gleanings in Buddha Fields (1897), Ghostly Japan, Kokoro, Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life, etc. He was also an admirable letter-writer.

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