Tulane University's Rare Books
Lafcadio Hearn/Koizumi Yakumo Collection
|The Secretary of State's Office is honored to display the Lafacadio Hearn rare book collection at the Louisiana State Archives, in cooperation with the Department of Economic Development and Tulane University. This unique traveling exhibit will remain on display at the Archives, located at 3851 Essen Lane in Baton Rouge, until November 18th. For more information, please call 504/922-1000.|
|A Short History of Lafcadio Hearn
Courtesy NewSouth Magazine
Lafcadio Hearn (Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo, 1850-1904) author, translator, educator is known for his excellent English prose. He is highly regarded by the Japanese people as the first westerner to truly understand their culture. While living in Japan from 1890 to 1904 he wrote articles about Japan in Atlantic Monthly and Harper's. While always writing in English, his Japanese wife, Setsuko, helped him gain great insight into Japanese customs and folklore.
Born in Greece of an Irish father and Greek mother, he was given the name Lafcadio, which refers to the Ionian Isle of Lefkas in Greece. At the age of two his parents brought him to Dublin, Ireland where he was raised by an aunt. He studied in France and England before going to Cincinnati at the age of nineteen where he became a newspaper reporter.
He worked as a reporter in New Orleans where he wrote his first novel, Chita. It was in New Orleans when Hearn was covering the World Industrial Exposition of 1885 that he first became fascinated by the Japanese culture as he studied the Japanese exhibit. He later lived for six months in New York and for two years in Martinique, where he wrote two novels.
In 1890 he moved to Japan and was befriended by the great linguist and professor at Tokyo University, Basil Hall Chamberlain. Chamberlain helped Hearn secure a position teaching English at Matsue in Shimane Prefecture, where he fell in love with a Japan that was rapidly passing into history.
In 1891 Hearn married Koizumi Setsuko and taught English and literature in several Japanese universities until his death. His book Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan (1894) established his reputation as an interpreter of Japan to the West. Other writings by Hearn include, Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation (1904); Exotics and Retrospective (1898); In Ghostly Japan (1899), Shadowings (1900); A Japanese Miscellany (1901), and Kaidan (1904).
This traveling exhibition of some fifty first printed issues, unpublished photos, along with reproductions of the author's original manuscripts commemorates the centennial of Koizumi Yakumo's naturalization as a Japanese.