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Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
By: (1850-1904)

Most of the following Kwaidan, or Weird Tales, have been taken from old Japanese books,— such as the Yaso-Kidan, Bukkyo-Hyakkwa-Zensho, Kokon-Chomonshu, Tama-Sudare, and Hyaku-Monogatari. Some of the stories may have had a Chinese origin: the very remarkable "Dream of Akinosuke," for example, is certainly from a Chinese source. But the story-teller, in every case, has so recolored and reshaped his borrowing as to naturalize it… One queer tale, "Yuki-Onna," was told me by a farmer of Chofu, Nishitama-gori, in Musashi province, as a legend of his native village. Whether it has ever been written in Japanese I do not know; but the extraordinary belief which it records used certainly to exist in most parts of Japan, and in many curious forms… The incident of "Riki-Baka" was a personal experience; and I wrote it down almost exactly as it happened, changing only a family-name mentioned by the Japanese narrator.

First Page:

KWAIDAN: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

By Lafcadio Hearn

A Note from the Digitizer

On Japanese Pronunciation

Although simplified, the following general rules will help the reader unfamiliar with Japanese to come close enough to Japanese pronunciation.

There are five vowels: a (as in fAther), i (as in machIne), u (as in fOOl), e (as in fEllow), and o (as in mOle). Although certain vowels become nearly "silent" in some environments, this phenomenon can be safely ignored for the purpose at hand.

Consonants roughly approximate their corresponding sounds in English, except for r, which is actually somewhere between r and l (this is why the Japanese have trouble distinguishing between English r and l), and f, which is much closer to h.

The spelling "KWAIDAN" is based on premodern Japanese pronunciation; when Hearn came to Japan, the orthography reflecting this pronunciation was still in use. In modern Japanese the word is pronounced KAIDAN.

There are many ellipses in the text. Hearn often used them in this book; they do not represent omissions by the digitizer... Continue reading book >>

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