Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things
Boston: Houghton, Miffin and Co., 1904. First Edition. Small Octavo. Item #029980
240pp. "Kwaidan" translates from the Japanese as weird tales, which perfectly describes these haunting stories. This collection of supernatural tales includes a musician called upon to perform for the dead, man-eating goblins, and insects who uncannily mimic human behavior. A perfect treat for fans of the strange and other worldly. It is a unique collection of haunting Japanese supernatural stories written by a Westerner who adopted Japan as his homeland. Hearn collects seventeen Japanese ghost stories (and a few nonfiction pieces about insects) in this 1904 volume. While most of these stories are translations from older texts, one was the first printed recording of a Japanese farmer's tale, and a few others are Hearn originals. Included are accounts of ghosts who eat freshly deceased corpses, ghosts who look human during the day but stretch their necks and alter their faces at night, ghosts who bewitch their human targets, and many other ghastly figures. [Barron, Fantasy, and Horror; Designed by Bruce Rogers (Work of Bruce Rogers, 110; Warde, F., Bruce Rogers, 43.] BAL 7940. (Blanck note publisher's "Introduction" appears to be an afterthought inspired by the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904. It is not present in the London first edition but was printed from the American sheets and is not present in the London edition until the second issue. A beautifully bright copy bound in dark olive green cloth decorated in a floral motif of red flowers and green leaves, lettering gilt, spine decorated the same, top edge gilt, tiny bump to one corner, no names or bookplates, in decorative green dust jacket lettered and decorated in dark green, missing pieces from spine ends, corners and edges torn. A very nice copy.