Book(s) of the Week: Kwaidan – Stories and Studies of Strange Things

kwaidan

By Lafcadio Hearn

I have always found myself fascinated with a good short story. Especially the kind verging on folktale. They are so tied to the culture they originate from, one can almost believe a folktale has some tie to real historic events. ‘Kwaidan’ (very…very roughly) translates to ‘Weird Tales’, but often we interpret them as horror stories alone. Possibly due to Lafcadio Hearn, who was so influential in bringing a slice of literary knowledge to the Western world in regards to Japan.

When Japan was becoming less isolated from the rest of the world, many westerners seemed to mock them for their seemingly backwards behaviors and views, and Kaidan/Kwaidan, a tradition of story-telling originating in the Edo period was practically outlawed in the process to make Japan look more developed. Many stories Lafcadio Hearn documented might have been lost forever, if he hadn’t taken pen to paper. My point being that this book not only contains excellent stories, but bits of history in it as well. Very much worth reading for fans of classic as well as modern horror literature.

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