Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), also known as Koizumi Yakumo after gaining Japanese citizenship, was best known for his books about Japan. He was born in Greece and raised in England, and moved to Japan in 1890. Kwaidan is a book of Japanese ghost stories. The last three chapters are studies on Chinese and Japanese folklore about insects (butterflies, ants, and mosquitoes). Most of the tales are collected and translated from old Japanese texts. one of the stories -- Yuki-onna, or The Snow-Woman -- was told to him by a farmer in Musashi Province, and Hearn could not determine whether it had been recorded before.
There are twenty stories in this book. I enjoyed all of them, but my favorites were:
"Of a mirror & a bell:" A woman kills herself and her ghost haunts a bell that was made of the metal from her mirror.
"The dream of Akinosuke:" A man has a dream in which he becomes governor of the mysterious island of Raishu.
Both have twist endings, which I won't spoil.
I found this book on a list of early Gothic novels & ghost stories at GoodReads. This is one of my books for the Back to the Classics Challenge, Category: Classic from Africa, Asia, or Oceania. And it is my first book for RIP XIV, a September-October challenge to read horror, gothic fiction, and suspense.
It is in the public domain, so you can find it at Project Gutenberg.
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