This isn’t to underplay his skills as a writer; his particular writings became so renowned through his skill at recording and conveying Japanese culture, treating it with respect without losing the sense of ‘Oriental’ otherness that so entertained Western culture. In my reading I have more than once encountered offhand references to Hearn in other books, making me think that he was something of a household name in the first half of the century, a sort of cultural emissary of all things Japanese. But not just Japanese—his most well-known efforts are his recordings of ghost stories. These ghost story recordings have become such a canonical part of the representation of Japanese folk culture that when Masaki Kobayashi directed his visually-stunning ghost story anthology in 1965, he named it Kwaidan after Hearn’s... [continues]
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