Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The national poet of Japan

Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo,小泉 八雲) was born in Lefkas, Greece. He was a son of an army doctor Charles Hearn from Ireland and a Greek woman Rosa Cassimati.Charles Hearn and Rosa Cassimati met in the Greek island of Cythera.Charles Hearn was possibly serving at the British navy.
Leucadio Hearn 

Lafcadio Hearn was born in the island of Lefkas where the couple lived and from the name of the island he got his name and was baptised according to the christian Orthodox customs in the Saint Paraskevi church.He was also given the name Patrick which is the name of the patron saint of Ireland but he never used it.

Suddenly his childhood would change so much that we can say it defined the course of the rest of his life.When Leucadio was 4 years old  Charles and Rosa moved out from the mediterranean Leucada and went in the Northern and dull Ireland.
The change of setting was not the only thing that affected his psychology.The aristocratic family of Charles Hearn never accepted Rosa and made the couple's life difficult to make to clear that they were not welcome.Some years after Charles Hearn asked for a divorce and ousted Rosa back to Greece in order to marry an Irish woman. Lafcadio would never see his mother again.
Rosa died  59 years old in a psychiatric clinic in Corfu.

The custody of Lefcadio was taken by one of his Irish aunts.
At this period Lefcadio was maltreated by his aunt. He reported that he was locked in a dark room that looked like a prison.However his aunt took care for his education and sent him to an Irish college.

Some years after, his aunt lost much of her fortune and Lefcadio was sent out of her home. He decided to take a ship for New York.In New York he was living like a trump doing some jobs just to make ends meet.
Later he went to Ohaio were he started his carreer in mass media. In Ohaio he worked in  printing press correcting mistakes in essays and journals. However an eye problem(he could see only from one eye) made his job very difficult and thus he left Ohaio for N.Orleans where he became a famous journalist. He was hired for a local newspaper to cover the crime news in N.Orleans. He became known for his writtings about the dark side of N.Orleans and about its mixed ancesty residents.He left New Orleans too after some years because of a failed marriage with a woman from N.Orleans.

In 1890 he travelled to Japan as a correspodent of an American magazine.He worked in Matsué as an English teacher of Shimané Prefectural Middle School. In Matsué, he got acquainted with his lifelong friend Nishida Sentarô, a colleague teacher, and married Koizumi Setsu, a daughter of a samurai.

In 1891, he moved to Kumamoto and had taught at the Fifth High School for 3 years. Kanô Jigorô, the president of the School of that time, is known as the man who spread judo to the world.

In 1896, when he lived in Kôbé after he worked as a journalist there, he got Japanese citizenship and a new name, Koizumi Yakumo. This name was taken from "Kojiki", a Japanese ancient myth.

On that year, he moved to Tôkyô and began to teach at the Imperial University of Tôkyô. There he got respect of students and many of them made a remarkable literary career.

In addition, he wrote much reports of Japan and published in America. His works was read by so many people as an introduction of Japan.

He quit the Imperial University in 1903 and began to teach at Waseda University on the year next. But after only a half year he died of angina pectoris.
Due to his problematic left eye most of his photos are taken from this angle

He got his inspiration as a poet right from his first step in Japan. He considered the Japanese culture more humanistic and pure than the western culture.He didn't trace the roots of the japanese culture in the high nobility but in the people who according to Hearn carried this national legacy that they took from their ancestors.In his writtings he mentions Ancient Greece and compares it to Japan . Surely the lack of his father's interest on him had a big impact  as also the loss of his mother  whom he considered more alike to him is a major theme in his works.He got initiated and admired the Japanese religion which he believed was crucial in the creation of the psychosynthesis of the Japanese people.

                                                                    Main Works

Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan
Out of the East
In Ghostly Japan
A Japanese Miscellany
Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation


takis said...

小泉八雲のKWAIDAN展 翻訳本と映画の世界 (Lafcadio Hearn 'KWAIDAN ... - [ Translate this page ] - Cached2011年6月26日 – タイトルであるKWAIDANは、セツの出雲弁訛りをそのまま本のタイトルにしたもの ... This exhibition will focus primarily on works such as KWAIDAN, ...

takis said...

Lafcadio Hearn 'KWAIDAN' Exhibition - 八雲会 - [ Translate this page ] › イベント情報 - Cachedホーム » イベント情報, イベント情報のピックアップ » Lafcadio Hearn 'KWAIDAN' Exhibition: The Special Collection of Books and Film ...

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