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Journal Articles Global Conversations: An International Journal in Contemporary Philosophy and Culture Year : 2019

« Lafcadio Hearn and Japan: from a “Journey” to “Home” »


Following the theme “Home and Journey around the Globe” of the 2nd symposium organized by the Society for Philosophy as Global Conversation, this article tries to analyze how Japan, which started as a travel destination via a journalistic assignment, became and remained, until the end of his life, “home” for the writer Lafcadio Hearn. Assuming that the reader is not necessarily well acquainted with this author, usually known in the field of Japonology, we start by describing in some detail Hearn’s life and work. This thorough overview allows us in the second and the third part to analyze two fundamental questions concerning Hearn’s life and work: first, we try to understand how Japan, a destination meant to be a place of a journey, could trigger Hearn’s desire to settle there; second, we analyze how this desire was sustained throughout his life. To answer our initial question, we describe and explain the process through which Hearn fell in love with Japan and how the Japanese, in return, showed their affection to him. In that part, we also tackle the problem of Hearn’s childhood and teenage life, which enables us to understand how a country like Japan, with its peculiarity in terms of people’s spirit, religious faith, and beliefs, could match so well with Hearn’s personality. Past the initial encounter, the passion and the delights of the first few years, which saw Hearn marry a Japanese woman and settle his home there, we analyze how he kept his desire to be in Japan and live in the long run. We show that this was rendered possible through his position as a scholar and his rich work on interpreting Japan and its culture. Hearn was a committed person and his position as an intermediary between West and East enabled him to question the presumed superiority of the Western culture over its Eastern counterpart. Besides this commitment, another factor, namely, the sharp insight of his writings on Japan, can also be seen as sustaining his desire to remain in that particular country. By means of his essays and stories, Hearn was indeed able to make its contemporary readers “undertake a journey” in Japan, and he played a crucial role in laying the foundations of cultural analysis studies about this country that would flourish in the twentieth century.
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Dates and versions

hal-03494270 , version 1 (18-12-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03494270 , version 1


Fabien Durringer. « Lafcadio Hearn and Japan: from a “Journey” to “Home” ». Global Conversations: An International Journal in Contemporary Philosophy and Culture, 2019, Home and Journey around the Globe, Vol. II, pp43-59. ⟨hal-03494270⟩
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