It is easy to ridicule the seeming contradictions of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn. He made many enemies in his lifetime and, after his death, some of them emerged to assail his reputation in a manner from which it has never recovered. I began researching this book in the early 1980s because I could not reconcile the intelligence, and astonishing modernity, of Hearn with the caricature of much of what has passed for biography. The tone of so much of it seemed to range from hostility to condescension. This was made possible by ignoring, or glossing over, most of Hearn's achievement.