Saturday, 6 February 2016

Japan Times Articles on Lafcadio Hearn

I recently wrote a couple of review articles connected to Irish author Lafcadio Hearn. Here's a link to my review of Insect Literature (pictured at top), the new and beautifully illustrated collection of writings by Hearn on insects from Swan River Press, opening up to us a fascinating 'other world' right in front of our eyes.

And here's a link to my mini review of 'A Fantastic Journey: The Life and Literature of Lafcadio Hearn' (pictured below), the classic biography of Hearn by Paul Murray.

Insect Literature shows to us in full I think Hearn's wonderful sensibility combined with a terrific gothic imagination. But I also can't resist quoting here the magnificent piece of scatological invective which I refer to in my short review of Paul Murray's biography.

Here's Lafcadio in Yokohama in 1890 writing a letter to the owner of 'Harper's Magazine' telling him exactly what he thinks of him and his magazine and returning all contracts:

'(you are) liars - and losers of MSS - employers of lying clerks and hypocritical, thieving editors, and artists whose artistic ability consists in farting sixty-seven times to the minute - scallywags, scoundrels, swindlers, sons of bitches.

Pisspots-with-the-handles-broken-off-and-the-bottom-knocked-out ignoramuses with the souls of slime composed of seventeen different kinds of shit, know by these presents there exists human beings who do not care a c**tful of cold piss for 'their own interests' if it is indeed to their own interests to deal with liars, scoundrels, thieves and sons of bitches...All the money of all the States of America and Mexico could not induce (me) to contribute one line to your infernally vulgar beastly goodey's-Lady's-Book-Magazine, you miserable beggarly buggerly cowardly rascally boorish brutal sons of bitches. Please understand that your resentment has for me less than the value of a bottled fart, and your bank account less consequence than a wooden shithouse struck by lightning.'

(From 'A Fantastic Journey: The Life and Literature of Lafcadio Hearn' by Paul Murray (1993), p.133)

1 comment:

A. Jarrett Wheatley said...

This reminds me of an excerpt I saw that's widely considered to be Hearn's writing (even though it was uncredited) from the newspaper he worked for at the time -- a bad, even a little scathing review, for Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". It made me laugh because it was so obiviously trying to shock the readership into immediately going out and buying it. "This is terrible! And a totally unique artistic voice!" This excerpt confirms for me, yes, that's the same style.