Lafcadio Hearn, the Mercantile, and the Seductive Song of a Mockingbird

https://i2.wp.com/www.lafcadiohearn.jp/misc/harpers.jpgOkay, Lafcadio Hearn won’t actually be here, but in a few days, for our annual Founder’s Day lecture, Professor John Hughes will lecture on Hearn’s Cincinnati years.  Hearn did visit the library, and he lived a truly literary life–viz.: his strange susceptability to stories.   Some months back, Library Patron and president of the American Lafcadio Hearn Society  Dr. Kinji Tanaka brought me an interesting article by a friend of Hearn’s, Rudoph Benson. Benson got a very depressed Hearn hired at the Commercial after he was fired from the Enquirer. They were passing the time one day telling stories and Benson told how his train had broken down in Alabama near New Orleans on his way back to Cincinnati from New Orleans and he had passed the night–here’s an excerpt of what he told Hearn: “…opening one of the French windows, I looked out on the veranda in the early dawn. I found myself in the midst of a grove of beautiful, fragrant magnolias … and soon discovered that this wonderful melody was coming from the throats of mocking birds.”
Several days passed, and Benson sought Hearn because he had failed to turn in a story for the Cincinnati Commerical on a boy who had contracted hydrophobia (which he was assigned because he was especially adept at rendering vividly the macabre).  Finally, Benson found the francophile Hearn in the Mercantile Library looking over some French books. Benson asked him why he had failed to deliver the story about the kid’s death throes and Hearn said that ever since Benson’s Alabama story, he had lost his loyalty to the paper and to Cincinnati. Benson told him that was all fine and good, either go or stay, but he better not miss another deadline. A few weeks later, Benson helped carry Hearn’s valise to the South-bound train and off he went to the Big Easy.  -Ed Scripsi

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Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] When and if you show up here for Jon Hughes’s Founders Day program on Lafcadio Hearn (see below), and you find yourself with a few minutes to wander around when you don’t feel like chatting up […]


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