Why these longings for lands in which we shall never be?-why this desire for that azure into which we cannot soar?-whence our mysterious love for that tumultuous deep into whose emerald secrets we may never peer? wrote Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) while visiting Florida in 1885. "Has it not often seemed to you that the more antiquated and the more unfamiliar an object or a place is, the more it appears at first sight to live,- to possess a sort of inner being, a fetish-spirit, a soul?"2 Such are the questions a reader of the great impressionistic writer might expect him to ask; for it is Hearn who will forever be remembered as that romantic and foreign observer of Meiji-era Japan. Yet before ever being viewed as a western emissary to the Far East, Hearn-the half Greek, half Irish immigrant to the United States-worked as a journalist for the New Orleans Times-Democrat.3 The Crescent City proved a wondrous melting pot of cultural experiences which refused to allow the writer's mind to rest for long. Urges to venture beyond his Gate of the Tropics would take a leap forward with a trip to primitive Florida;4 the experiences there collected being those which would eventually drive Hearn, the traveling prosateur, further south to live among the Antilles and their phosphorescent seas.
Stillwell, Maxwell J.
"By the Shores of the Phosphorescent Seas: Lafcadio Hearn's Journey to Florida's Mysterious Fountain,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 93:
4, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol93/iss4/4