By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Ghost Story review: “The Soul of the Great Bell” by Patrick Lafcadio Hearn

This story opens by describing a bell called Ta-chun sz’, “The Tower of the Great Bell.” The bell resounds in a tongueless voice, “KO-NGAI!” that shakes the little dragons on the high-tilted eaves of the green roofs. The porcelain gargoyles tremble on their perches and the hundred little bells on the pagodas quiver with the desire to speak. After this comes the sound, almost of a woman weeping, “Hiai!”

Every child in the city knows the story of the bell, why it says “Ko-Ngai” and “Hiai.”

Some 500 years earlier, the Celestially August, the Son of Heaven, Yong-Lo, of the Illustrious or Ming dynasty, commanded the worthy official Kouan-Yu the he should have a bell made of such size its sound might be heard for 100 li. It must be made of brass, gold and silver. Their first two attempts failed. The Son of Heaven decided the third attempt better work or head would roll, quite literally.

This is a sad story of love and sacrifice, of a daughter’s love for her father. It is a 19th century story and probably would be considered too much of a downer to read today, but there is a loveliness to it that strikes the reader.

Born in the Greek Isles, author Lafcadio Hearn was of Irish and Greek parentage, but spent much of his adult life in Japan and became a Japanese citizen.


Title: “The Soul of the Great Bell” first published Some Chinese Ghosts 1887

Author: Patrick Lafcadio Hearn AKA Koizumi Yakumo (1852-1904)

Source: ISFDB





Last review: “The Monster” by Randall Garrett

Last ghost story: “The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral” by M. R. James


©2015 Denise Longrie

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Rufuszen wrote on September 2, 2015, 10:05 AM

I used to read a lot of ghost stories when I was younger, but haven't touched for many a year.

msiduri wrote on September 2, 2015, 11:40 AM

I used to scare the bejesus out of myself when I was kid with ghost stories. They've long since lost that ability, but I still love ghost stories. They say about a lot about people, actually. Now with this new-fangled internet thing and ebooks, I've access to more ghost stories and sci-fi stories than I could have dreamed of way back whenever. Most of them are free, or nearly free. Gods bless the net.

Feisty56 wrote on September 2, 2015, 12:06 PM

What an interesting concept for a story! Your descriptions whet my appetite, even though I may not be a fan of the genre. : )

msiduri wrote on September 2, 2015, 4:16 PM

It's all part of my evil plot. But seriously, I'm glad I got you thinking about it. It's really a wonderful story, sad as it is.

CalmGemini wrote on September 5, 2015, 12:09 PM

We are lucky that we can read a lot of stories online for free.The above story contains some good passages.

msiduri wrote on September 5, 2015, 12:12 PM

I thought the opening passage was especially beautiful.