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Over a century after his death, author, translator, and educator Lafcaido Hearn remains one of the best-known Westerners ever to make Japan his home. Almost more Japanese than the Japanese—"to think with their thoughts" was his aim—his prolific writings on things Japanese were instrumental in introducing Japanese culture to the West.
In this masterful anthology, Donald Richie shows that Hearn was first and foremost a reliable and enthusiastic observer, who faithfully recorded a detailed account of the people, customs, and culture of late nineteen-century Japan. Opening and closing with excerpts from Hearn's final books, Richie's astute selection from among "over 4,000 printed pages" not including correspondence and other writing, also reveals Hearn's later, more sober and reflective attitudes to the things that he observed and wrote about.
Part One, "The Land," chronicles Hearn's early years when he wrote primarily about the appearance of his adopted home. Part Two, "The People," records the author's later years when he came to terms with the Japanese themselves. In this anthology, Richie, more gifted in capturing the essence of a person on the page than any other foreign writer living in Japan, has picked out the best of Hearn's evocations.