chapter  14
13 Pages

In Ghostly Japan

As he explored childhood, he became, it seems, childish: Setsu said she detected a growing childishness in her husband's behaviour in his last years. When he was down, his pessimism was total; when he sang children's songs, his absorption in them was such that he seemed never to have known worry or care. 1 Hearn himself was conscious of his childishness; indeed, he told his students that to be a good father it was necessary to be able to understand the pleasures and play of a child. Many great men of literature retained 'something of the child-character'; it was '. . . the very greatest of minds that seem to be able to find supreme pleasure in little things'.2 Yet there was also a stern side to his nature which showed itself even in his dealings with his children. To Kazuo, he was loving but severe; his son compared it to living in the shadow of a volcano.3