The Gothic traveler: Generic transformations in Lafcadio Hearn and Angela Carter

Mary Goodwin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Travel to Japan inspired in writers Lafcadio Hearn and Angela Carter new perspectives on the Gothic vision that played a prominent role in their work. Hearn, an Anglo-American literary journalist whose essays and short fiction in New Orleans and the French West Indies evinced a strong penchant for the macabre and the occult, found in fin-de-siècle Japan his dream home. Hearn, who became a Japanese citizen, made a name for himself that endures to the present day with his observations of Japanese life, customs and hisrory, as well as his reworking of old legends and tales of the weird and supernatural. Nearly a century later, British novelist and short-story writer Angela Carter spent two years in Japan and produced a collection of travel articles and stories based on her experiences there. Although the travel motif has always been a feature of Gothic fiction, in this essay I analyze the Gothic mode as it appears in the travel literature Hearn and Carter produced, in which they reworked the Gothic tradition they had inherited to produce work that reveals startling insights into cultural crossing and personal identity, inflected with race, status and gender norms. New approaches to both the Self and Other emerge from their innovations to the Gothic genre from the remote perspective of Japan, a country that metamorphoses in their writing into both a scenic location and a symbolic imaginary that haunts Hearn and Carter, and their readers, in different ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-81
Number of pages23
JournalTamkang Review
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun

Keywords

  • Angela Carter
  • Expatriate writers
  • Gothic Asia
  • Japan
  • Lafcadio Hearn
  • Travel writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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