Heron: a novel

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Feeney, Robert
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University College Cork
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‘But remember that here all is enchantment, that you have fallen under the spell of the dead, that the lights and the colours and the voices must fade away at last into emptiness and silence’ - from Lafcadio Hearn's Japan: An Interpretation (1904) Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn wrote this in the year of his death. By that time, he had written a number of books about Japan, including "Kwaidan", a collection of traditional ghost stories. Hearn's work was heralded as translating the East for the West, but also criticised for its idealised view of Japan. Hearn lived there for thirteen years, taught English at Tokyo Imperial University, married a woman from a noble family and had children. However, quotes such as the one above suggest that he was not entirely comfortable in his adopted home. The creative thesis explores, through the means of a historical novel, the idea that his troubled state of mind stemmed from his eventful upbringing in Dublin and abroad. Left in the care of his great-aunt at age seven, half-blinded at sixteen in a playground accident, expelled and impoverished in Cincinnati at nineteen; the novel looks at the ghosts of Hearn's past and how they haunted his life in Japan. The critical thesis also examines these familial ghosts, using a close reading of one of Hearn’s stories (‘Yuko: A Reminiscence’) to discuss three themes pertinent to his writing and his past. A record of creative practice notes the influence of that story on the novel Heron and details the novel’s construction through a chronological account of its influences, obstacles and the forms of its various drafts, from first to last.
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Creative writing , Lafcadio Hearn
Feeney, R. 2023. Heron: a novel. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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