Chita: A Memory of Last Island

by Lafcadio Hearn


On August 10, 1856, the Last Island hurricane ravaged the Louisiana coast, claimed at least 183 lives, and split an island in two, officially known as Isle Dernière, but commonly referred to as Last Island. A ship, The Star, was scheduled to pick up vacationers, but ended up being blown ashore, and the captain, Abe Smith, saved at least forty people from the blowing sand, water and winds. It was believed that there were approximately 400 people on the island during the storm, and half of them perished. After the storm subsided, not only were all built structures on the island destroyed, the island itself became a sandbar.

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) was inspired by these events to create this historical novel. It follows a Spanish fisherman who comes to Last Island to look for useful items among the debris. Instead, he finds a young child survivor of the storm. The tale follows her life and the surprising turn of events. It offers an interesting portrayal of Louisiana at the time. Hearn wrote a great deal about Louisiana, as well as Japan. Some of Hearn’s other books include: La Cuisine Creole: A Collection of Culinary Recipes (1885), Gombo Zhebes (1885), and Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (1894).This edition is dedicated to Francisco Alacantra, hoping he will find Hearn interesting.