Teresa's Reviews > Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn
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Jan 23, 14

Read in October, 2010, read count: 2

This book is divided into 2 sections, the longer one called "Kwaidan," which means 'weird tales' (there are 17 of them) and a shorter section called "Insect-Studies," which is comprised of 3 different essays about butterflies, mosquitoes and ants. All the writings are from a Japanese perspective, though Hearn points out where the tradition is even older and likely comes from an earlier Chinese telling.

In the "Kwaidan" section I was reminded of other folklorists who've done the same kind of 'archiving' for other communities. The details in the stories may be very different from other traditions, but many times the fears embodied in the stories seem the same, giving them a universal feel. Certain stories even helped explain the modern-day Japanese horror stories and movies in which the spirit cannot rest because of a grudge it held at the time of its earthly death.

I previously knew how much at peace Hearn felt in Japan, knowing that here is where he found his true home, becoming a citizen and marrying a local woman. The well-written essays with his philosophical musings show how much he had embodied the essence of Japan.
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Reading Progress

10/21/2013 marked as: currently-reading
10/31/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely Looks interesting. Yes, I heard about the grudge! Thanks!


Cynthia You seem to be going through a Japanese phase T.


message 3: by Teresa (last edited Oct 17, 2010 03:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Cynthia wrote: "You seem to be going through a Japanese phase T."

An online friend of mine lives in Japan (she's Canadian, married to a Japanese man) and hosts via her blog what she calls mini-challenges every month that are in some way related to Japan. One month it was haiku and she's the one who sent me the haiku book. This month the challenge had to do with something scary.

It doesn't hurt that my son is living and working in Japan right now either. :) He's been there since March and will return this March.


Cynthia How wonderful for your son to learn up close about another culture! Does he write at all? He's had a lot of exposure to so much I bet he has something to say.


Teresa Cynthia wrote: "How wonderful for your son to learn up close about another culture! Does he write at all? He's had a lot of exposure to so much I bet he has something to say."

He's keeping a journal, so he can remember his students, he says. He's letting me read it and there's a lot of great stuff in it.


Cynthia That's good. I hope one or the other of you write it up.


message 7: by Maria (new)

Maria I like your review. YOU write it up, T, if he doesn't - you'll have such good material! So the stint is for a year only? Somehow I thought it was for more. What an experience he's getting.


Teresa Maria wrote: "I like your review. YOU write it up, T, if he doesn't - you'll have such good material! So the stint is for a year only? Somehow I thought it was for more. What an experience he's getting."

Thanks, Maria. Well, I don't know about that, since it's not at all my story :) but who knows what the future will bring. Yep, one full year.


message 9: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue This sounds very interesting Teresa. I'm wandering through your books tonight and getting lots of ideas. When will I read them all? And I'm only on page 3 of your books.


Teresa Susan wrote: "This sounds very interesting Teresa. I'm wandering through your books tonight and getting lots of ideas. When will I read them all? And I'm only on page 3 of your books."

I know what ya mean, Susan. I always think it would be nice to be able to read 3 or 4 books simultaneously with 3 or 4 different parts of my brain!


message 11: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Oh so true. I actually was just on the B&N site putting aside a couple of Peter Ackroyd books since they sent me a coupon today. Do you have any special recommendation of a wonderful book? Your list is so huge and has so many different (to me) writers and genres. I feel like my reading world is expanding in interest. (or I'm acting on the interests more now)


message 12: by Teresa (last edited Jan 27, 2011 10:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Susan wrote: "Oh so true. I actually was just on the B&N site putting aside a couple of Peter Ackroyd books since they sent me a coupon today. Do you have any special recommendation of a wonderful book?"

He is kinda hit-or-miss though. Hawksmoor is my favorite by him. If you're familiar with Oscar Wilde, you may also enjoy The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde -- Ackroyd channeled Wilde so well, it's like you're reading Wilde himself.


message 13: by Sue (last edited Jan 27, 2011 11:59AM) (new) - added it

Sue I was thinking of London: The Biography andThe Canterbury Tales. Hawksmoor sounds interesting too but I haven't read Wilde for eons.

Do you have any thoughts beyond Ackroyd?


message 14: by Teresa (last edited Jan 27, 2011 06:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Teresa Susan wrote: "I was thinking of London: The Biography andThe Canterbury Tales. Hawksmoor sounds interesting too but I haven't read Wilde for eons.

Do you have any thoughts beyond Ackroyd?"


I started London: The Biography but didn't get too far into it. I got bored early on, I think because it meandered around too much. I haven't read his retelling of The Canterbury Tales, though I have read Chaucer's version.

Sure, but probably too many! :) What were you thinking of, generally speaking, that is?


message 15: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Thanks for the info on London. Maybe I'll wait on that one. The reviews of his take on Canterbury Tales are pretty good so I thought that might be interesting.

I'm not even sure what I want. Isn't that sad. Maybe I'll look further through your list and ask you about some of the titles/authors.


Teresa Susan wrote: "Maybe I'll look further through your list and ask you about some of the titles/authors. "

Sure. Any time.

I have the 'standard' books I recommend to people who don't read much and then ask me for recommendations, but I know you don't fall into that category. :)


message 17: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue So far I love your list and I'm curious to see what books I have on my shelves (read and unread) are there.

I'll be in touch--maybe by a regular message the next time.


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