Cover image by Takato Yamamoto. Introduction by Anne-Sylvie Homassel.
The insect-world is altogether a world of goblins and fairies." — "Sémi"
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.
Born on the Greek island of Lefkada, Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) was brought up in both Ireland and England. At nineteen he emigrated to the United States where he became a journalist. After a sojourn in the French West Indies, he sailed for Japan in 1890. Hearn wrote extensively about his new homeland, its tales, customs, and religions, acting as a bridge between Japan and the Western world. He died in Tokyo where he is buried under his Japanese name, Koizumi Yakumo.