Lafcadio Hearn and Mitchell McDonald

grande_insect1A reproduction of the following holographic letter was printed at the front of the first edition of Insect Literature (Hokuseido, 1921). It was written by Mitchell McDonald, a paymaster for the United States Navy and also the principal owner of the Grand Hotel in Yokohama. In addition to their close friendship until Hearn’s death in 1904, McDonald also served as the author’s literary executor. Mitchell McDonald perished in the Great Kanto Earthquake in September 1923.

The letter is addressed to R. Tanabe, T. Ochiai, and M. Otani, commending their efforts on the bilingual “Hearn Memorial Translations” series, of which Insect Literature was a part. Otani, who was also a former pupil of Hearn, translated the book into Japanese, which appeared beside Hearn’s original English texts.


Grand Hotel, Yokohama

Jan. 21, 1921

IMG_0055Dear Mr. Tanabe, Mr. Ochiai, and Mr. Ōtani,

As a friend of Lafcadio Hearn’s, and for that and other good reasons, a friend of yours, I am taking the liberty of saying that in your “Hearn Memorial Translations” you are “running true to form”—a thing to be confidently expected of course—in the proof you give that his whole-souled affection for his Japanese pupils and associates was not at all misplaced, but on the contrary was strikingly warranted in the hearty return to him in full measure of a like affection.

I want to say further that to have had as your teacher a literary star of first magnitude (now blazing alone in the literary firmament as yet without schools or satellites) is a distinction to be exceedingly proud of, but that which is something still more to be proud of is the service you are, yourselves, now in the way of rendering those of the present and rising generations of Japan, who have room in their hearts for love of country—and who are they that have more room in their hearts than the Japanese have for love of country?

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Hearn and McDonald

In that matter, Hearn must have been Hearn—sent to Japan that with his mighty pen he could acquaint your own intellectuals as well as the outside world with the virtues of the great People of that time a newly recognized member of the Family of Great Nations. Your people have long been made familiar enough with those who looked only for Japanese vices and finding, of course, some that are common to all mankind—now let them become intimately acquainted with the man who looked for, found, could see and could tell what was to be applauded in them—much more, in fact, than they themselves were even faintly aware of—to their glory be said!

The time has come when Japan should learn what it means to “know thyself” as seen in the study of Hearn’ s writings—and at the same time thus to learn English at its best, for, after all, a wide and intimate knowledge of English is a practical consideration of utmost importance. In fact, not the least important feature of what you are doing for your people is making it possible for them to participate with you in the work of the man of whom it was said by the distinguished Associate Professor of English at the Columbia University, New York—John Erskine, Ph.D.—that his (Hearn’s) lectures were “criticisms of the finest kind”, unmatched in English unless we return to the best in Coleridge, and in some ways unequaled by anything in Coleridge!

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Hearn and his pupil M. Otani

Your familiarity with the language—thanks to Hearn—qualifies you to put his incomparable English into Japanese as nearly as it can be done, but the greatest service you are doing your fellow scholars lies in giving them Hearn’s English, at the same time that you make it accessible to the Nation at large.

To speak only of the very beginning of your “Hearn Memorial Translations”—every one of the five books a gem of first water—is to invite attention to what stirs the emotions to the depths of the soul, and, any fair-minded man, having read it, who wouldn’t at once resent an unkindness—much less an injustice—to the kind of people there described, is unimaginable.

The time is bound to come when present day insanity wherever existing will be made to give way to soundness of mind, and in that time the benevolent influence of Hearn’ s work and that of his disciples will be keenly felt and fully appreciated. Haste the day, dear good friends, and believe me

Always faithfully yours,

Mitchell McDonald


IMG_0056Swan River Press’s new and expanded edition of Lafcadio Hearn’s Insect Literature is available to order here.

As Lafcadio Hearn observes in his essay “Insects in Greek Poetry”, “the capacity to enjoy the music of insects and all that it signifies in the great poem of nature tells very plainly of goodness of heart, aesthetic sensibility, a perfectly healthy state of mind.” And to this, one might add a keen sense of wonder.

Insect Literature collects twenty essays and stories written by Hearn, mostly in Japan, a land where insects were as appreciated as in ancient Greece. With a witty gentleness bordering on the eerie, Hearn describes in these pieces the song of the cricket, the spectral fly of dragon-flies, quotes the entomological haiku of classical Japan, and recalls Buddhist tales in which the souls insects and men are never far one from the other.

Lafcadio Hearn and Mitchell McDonald

The Green Book 6

Green Book 6EDITOR’S NOTE

So far The Green Book has been avoiding Mr. Bram Stoker. Not out of dislike or animosity, but for a journal that hopes to illuminate the lesser seen corners of Irish fantastic literature, I felt it was okay to let Stoker—our most prominent spokesman—wait patiently in the wings for the first few issues and allow others the spotlight for just a moment. But now that we’re six numbers in, it’s time to give Mr. Stoker his due and allow him to take centre stage. And so we pull back the red velvet curtains on this issue in grand style.

It’s not every day one discovers a forgotten story by Bram Stoker. But there it was, on page three of an equally forgotten daily newspaper. It appeared quite unexpectedly in the far right-hand column. There’s nothing quite like that rush of excitement one feels when making such a discovery in the otherwise subdued and dimly-lit microfilm room of the National Library. The thrill of reading that recognisable prose, filled with masculinity, adventurous seafaring, nefarious murder, teetotalling, a clever fiancée, and a ghost. Did I not mention it’s a ghost story too? It is, and also the second (known) story Stoker had ever published. No, it’s not every day that one discovers a forgotten story by Bram Stoker. But they’re out there, just waiting to be uncovered. And we’re happy to be able to share this one, which has lain dormant for nearly 150 years, with you.

11896252_1169352346413301_3671742602046275018_nWe’re equally fortunate to have in this issue an introduction from David J. Skal giving some background and context to Stoker’s lost tale. As some of you may already know, Skal’s new biography of Stoker, Something in the Blood, will be out next year; certainly an event keenly anticipated by many. At the end of this issue, John Edgar Browning, himself no stranger to unearthing forgotten writings by Stoker, interviews Skal about Dracula, Stoker, and his forthcoming book.

So what’s in between this Stoker sandwich? Glad you asked. We’ve got an excellent essay on Lafcadio Hearn’s Irish influences from John Moran (to coincide with the Hearn exhibition running this autumn at the Little Museum of Dublin), a short reminiscence of the Great War by Lord Dunsany, a piece by Martin Hayes on the fraught relationship between Yeats and Crowley (hey, we’ve got to mark the Great Poet’s sesquicentenary somehow, right?), and finally an essay on the oddly overlooked mystic, visionary, poet, artist, pacifist, and statesman George William Russell (AE)—rightly described by Archbishop Gregg as “that myriad-minded man”—who I hope you will find as interesting as I do. In addition to all this, we have our usual crop of reviews, from which I hope you’ll find something to discover.

11952719_1169354093079793_8682393322221805289_oFinally, before I leave you in the capable hands of Mr. Stoker, I would like to direct your attention to the cover. Here you will find Harry Clarke’s “Mephisto” (1914) from Goethe’s Faust. Stoker’s employer, the celebrated actor-manager Sir Henry Irving, played Mephistopheles with great success throughout his career. It is a role Stoker saw him perform over seven hundred times. The infernal character, as portrayed by Irving, is thought to have influenced Dracula—but the astute reader will catch Stoker’s much earlier reference to Mephistopheles in the pages ahead.

And now, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present to you, Mr. Bram Stoker’s “Saved by a Ghost” . . .

Brian J. Showers
Rathmines, Dublin
16 August 2015

Order The Green Book 6 here.

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Contents

“Editor’s Note”
Brian J. Showers

“Saved by a Ghost”
Bram Stoker

“Some Comments on ‘Saved by a Ghost'”
by David J. Skal

“Early Influences on Lafcadio Hearn”
John Moran

“Stray Memories”
Lord Dunsany

“Fry-Ups with the Poets and Prophets”
Martin Hayes

“AE: Mystic and Economist”
Ernest A. Boyd

“Something in His Blood: An Interview with David J. Skal”
John Edgar Browning

“Reviews”

Mervyn Wall’s The Unfortunate/Return of Fursey (Darrell Schweitzer)

Craftsman Audio’s Complete Ghost Stories of Le Fanu (Rob Brown)

Caitriona Lally’s Eggshells (John Howard)

Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal (Bernice M. Murphy)

“Notes on Contributors”

The Green Book 6