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Lafcadio Hearn as Japanese Nationalist

Roy Starrs
Japan Review
No. 18 (2006), pp. 181-213
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25791302
Page Count: 33
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Lafcadio Hearn as Japanese Nationalist
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Abstract

During the fourteen years that Lafcadio Hearn alias Koizumi Yakumo lived in Japan (Meiji 23-37, 1890-1904), his attitude toward nationalism underwent a profound change. Before his arrival in Japn the only kind of nationalism evinced in his writings was in the gentle tradition of the old romantic Herderian school, a purely cultural nationalism—more specifically, a nostalgic attachment to "dying" folk cultures such as those of the American and Caribbean Creoles. But his encounter with Meiji Japan turned him into an aggressive modern state nationalist, to the extent even that he adopted the Japanese cause against China and Russia. How can we account for this dramatic transformation? On the one hand, it seems obvious that the atmosphere of rising nationalism in late Meiji Japan had a profound impact on Hearn. But I would also argue that Hearn's pre-Japan immersion in the Herderian struggle to save or at least memorialize "dying cultures" laid the ground for his "conversion" to an aggressive form of modern state nationalism vis-à-vis Japan, which at that time, like the Creole nations writ large, seemed threatened with cultural extinction. 明治二十三年から明治三十七年 (1890–1904) まで十四年間に及ぶ日本滞在中に小泉八雲 (ラフカデイオ・ハーン) のナショナリズムの思想には大きな変化が見られた。来日以前、ハーンの著作に表れたのは純粋に文化的なヘルダー(Johann Gottfried Herdel) 風ナショナリズムの伝統を引くものであった。それは特にアメリカやマルテイニクのクレオールの民族文化のような滅び行く民族文化ヘの郷愁的な愛着であった。しかし来日後は次第に攻撃的で近代的な国家主義的なナショナリズムに変貌してゆく。この大きな変化の一因は、明治後期に高まったナショナリズムがハーンに多大な影響を及ぼしたからである。しかし他方では来日前のハーンのヘルダー風ナショナリズムも転換の重要な布石になったと考えられる。なぜならハーンの目から見れば、明治時代の日本はアメリカやマルテイニクのクレオール民族のように文化的絶滅の危機に瀕していたからである。

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