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Kokoro Lafcadio Hearn

Kokoro By Lafcadio Hearn

Kokoro by Lafcadio Hearn

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Kokoro Summary

Kokoro: An Intimate Portrait of Japanese Inner Life by Lafcadio Hearn

The papers composing this volume treat of the inner rather than of the outer life of Japan, for which reason they have been grouped under the title Kokoro (heart). [This] word signifies also mind, in the emotional sense; spirit; courage; resolve; sentiment; affection; and inner meaning, just as we say in English, the heart of things. --Lafcadio Hearn

As an interpreter of Japan for the West, Lafcadio Hearn has no peer. His books are still read with fascination by foreigners and Japanese alike--a tribute to his keen powers of observation and the vividness of his prose. Kokoro is Hearn's love letter to Japan--his exploration of the genius of Japanese civilization and the wonder he felt at encountering these islands and their inhabitants.

The 15 extraordinary stories in this book include:
  • Kimiko-- A beautiful geisha hatches a desperate plan to save her mother from poverty but then must make a heartbreaking choice.
  • A Conservative-- A samurai's son embraces the West and travels to Europe but finds his new home to be a shallow and faithless land.
  • A Street Singer-- A woman captivates crowds with the beauty of her voice, but her life story goes much deeper than her musical talents.
  • By Force of Karma-- The peculiar tale of a Buddhist priest who receives a letter from a mysterious woman and ultimately takes his own life.

Published six years after Hearn arrived in Japan, these stories focus on the inner spiritual life of the Japanese. Sometimes touching and always compelling, they are drawn from Hearn's own experiences, telling stories of the people and customs that still make Japan so unique.

Kokoro includes an informative foreword by Patricia Welch which highlights how, 125 years later, our understanding of Japan can still be deepened by Hearn's heartfelt prose.

Kokoro Reviews

When not penning his observations, travels and historico-cultural analysis, Hearn switches to passages of novelistic invention, as if crafting an inspirational gothic fantasy out of Japan that will take him to the heart (kokoro) of the mystery of human existence. --The Japan Times
Many of the essays in Kokoro are informed by Hearn's preoccupation and fascination with Japan's headlong rush to catch up with the West. Now, 125 years later, his heartfelt reflections on the psyche of a nation in a time of transition still captivate the reader. --The Japan Times

About Lafcadio Hearn

Lafcadio Hearn was one of the earliest foreign writers to publish stories and essays about Japan in English. Arriving in 1890, he taught English literature and began publishing books on Japan in 1894, soon becoming known as the most perceptive interpreter of all things Japanese to the West. His books on Japan include Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Kwaidan and In Ghostly Japan.

Patricia Welch is a professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature in the Department of Comparative Comparative Literature, Languages, and Linguistics at Hofstra University.

Additional information

Kokoro: An Intimate Portrait of Japanese Inner Life by Lafcadio Hearn
Tuttle Publishing
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