The Dream of the Celt
In Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Dream of the Celt – an epic and moving novel spanning three continents – one of the world’s greatest writers re-imagines the life of Roger Casement, the most controversial hero of Irish nationalism.
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As The Dream of the Celt opens, it is the summer of 1916 and Roger Casement awaits the hangman in London’s Pentonville Prison. Dublin lies in ruins after the disastrous Easter Rising led by his comrades of the Irish Volunteers. He has been caught after landing from a German submarine. For the past year he has attempted to raise an Irish brigade from prisoners of war to fight alongside the Germans against the British Empire that awarded him a knighthood only a few years before. And now his petition for clemency is threatened by the leaking of his private diary and his secret life as a gay man…
Mario Vargas Llosa, with his incomparable gift for powerful historical narrative, takes the reader on a journey back through a remarkable life dedicated to the exposure of barbaric treatment of indigenous peoples by European predators in the Congo and Amazonia. Casement was feted as one of the greatest humanitarians of the age. Now he is about to die ignominiously as a traitor.
Mario Vargas Llosa's semi-fictionalised account of Casement's life portrays a heroic, if ultimately tragic champion of oppressed peoples ... Absorbing.
A novel by the Nobel prizewinner Mario Vargas Llosa might seem ripe for cult status, when it's subject is the life of Roger Casement.
Extraordinary historical novel ... Ingenious ... Vargas Llosa's literary realism seems so natural, with no lyrical outbursts, no pointless cleverness. His research is meticulous, whether through travel or through libraries. But it is always embodied in polt and character ... This stimulating biographical novel, written with fiction's best freedoms.
Gripping ... Vargas Llosa tells is with panache ... There is much to enjoy in this novel.
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