"Inventing New Orleans"

In the aftermath of the Civil War, as the United States began to reconstitute itself in anew, a number of eloquent voices began to reckon with that part of the U. S. that seemed least like the others: New Orleans. As a place deeply marked by slavery and yet not exactly part of the American South, it was alternately the object of sharp critique and praised as an alternative cultural reality, a sort of paradise. In this era, the themes most often associated with New Orleans, the ideas that persist at the heart of today's tourist industry — pirates, voodoo, creole cuisine, cemeteries, ghosts, sexual license, saloons — were first unleashed in the popular press, thanks, most pointedly, to the extraordinary prose of Lafcadio Hearn.