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Chita: A Memory of Last Island by Lafcadio…

Chita: A Memory of Last Island

by Lafcadio Hearn

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This is a wonderful classic available for free in eFormat from Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org). It is a fictionalization of a real event in Louisiana history. There used to be more and larger barrier islands before erosion and some of these had summer resorts. In the days before modern weather technology, a hurricane wiped out such a resort. Hearn, using the wonderfully descriptive (not to say purple) prose, wrote this novella about a little girl who survives the hurricane but is separated from her family and taken in by an Isleno fisher-couple. It is a gorgeous little novella and only about 90 pages long. ( )
  Caitlin70433 | Jun 6, 2016 |
Chita is a wonderful modest depiction of the copious faces of nature. Hearn who served as an editorial writer, at 'Times Democrat' (1875-1887) in New Orleans, pens a thoughtful mystic about humane simplicity against the eminent spectacle of innate catastrophe close to home.

The Last Island was a holiday resort between the south shores of New Orleans and Louisiana. The island was destroyed by a Category 4 hurricane that washed the lasting remains of the scenic land gaining the name -Isle Dernière. Hearn sets the fictional story of Conchita (Chita) against the backdrop of a factual event creating eloquence to the narrative.

The typhoon of August 10th 1856 destroyed the island and its vacationing population; sweeping away the cattle, pianos, children’s toys, homes and dead bodies. The aftermath washes ashore of Viosca (island near Louisiana), an infant- a blonde, blue-eyed girl who is adopted by a Spanish fisherman Feliu and his wife Carmen. Carmen a religious woman perceives the baby to be a gift from God and names her Chita after her deceased baby. Chita finds a loving home with her foster parents unaware of her living biological father Dr.Julien. Cry providence, Julien turns up at the island to treat a patient; on seeing Chita realizes how much she resembles his dead wife Adele. However, before his skepticisms are confirmed he succumbs to yellow fever.

Designating it a "philosophical romance", Hearn divulges the perfidious and magnanimous facets of the environment. Writing about the nature majestically, he choreographs minimalism with utmost shrewdness blending a perfect melody of a spectatorial compassion.

"All, all is blue in the calm, save the low land under your feet, which you almost forget, since it seems only as a tiny green flake afloat in the liquid eternity of day. Then slowly, caressingly, irresistibly, the witchery of the Infinite grows upon you: out of Time and Space you begin to dream with open eyes, to drift into delicious oblivion of facts, to forget the past, the present, the substantial, to comprehend nothing but the existence of that infinite Blue Ghost as something into which you would wish to melt utterly away forever. . . ."

Hearn’s brilliancy in inserting life in objects creates a dreamy rhapsody banishing the catalogue narration seen in other written novellas. The irony of adversity and bliss juxtaposed in the lives of Chita and the island makes this one of Hearn’s finest.
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  Praj05 | Apr 5, 2013 |
I'm a sucker for all things David Simon does, so while watching his latest series "'Treme" Creighton Bernette (John Goodman), a half-defeated Tulane professor and sometime-author, mentioned Lafcadio Hearn's book on the flood of 1858. Being the sucker I am I sought it out the next day (only one copy in our library system!) and began to read. Lafcadio Hearn's sonorous voice brought me into a lull only to be harshly awoken to the howling of a hurricane wind, the resulting mass of drowned bodies drifting on the surf, and a motherless child who was inexplicably spared. This might be the story that gets me back into classic literature, because after finishing it I realized it's something I've been missing for a long time. Too many times recently I've found myself reading graphic novels or beach reads and have realized the diminishing returns I'm getting from them--it's time to kick this brain up a notch and get some quality reading in! ( )
  mikewick | Jul 28, 2010 |
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This 1889 novel tells the story of a Creole girl who survives an extreme Louisiana hurricane. Rescued by a fisherman and his wife, the girl remembers only her name: Chita. The couple raises her as their own child. Meanwhile, Chita's true father believes his daughter is dead. Years later, the two meet again . . . but under devastating circumstances.… (more)

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