The Dream of the Celt
by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
2010 / 358 pages
Mario Vargas Llosa is another winner of the Nobel Prize for literature and considering his brilliant work, The Feast of the Goat (2001) deservedly so. Yes, I’ve read it – twice. Vargas writes top drawer historical fiction.
The Dream of the Celt is also historical fiction and very, very well researched but there were man times I felt like I was reading a fictionalized biography – just some dialogue and specific scenes added to complete the picture. The idea of Vargas using a journalistic approach for this novel is interesting because Roger Casement was in the news quite a lot between 1903 and 1916 and continues to be of interest.
Unlike the historical fiction Vargas writes of Latin America, The Dream of the Celt
concerns the independence of Ireland as well as the mistreatment of the natives who were enslaved to work the rubber plantations of the Congo and Peru. It’s pretty anti-imperialist and possibly anti-capitalist.
Casement was a hero – he put his energies directly into ending the horrors of the rubber plantations on two continents and then realizing his own native Ireland was in trouble because of the imperialist ideas of Britain he joined those efforts.
Unfortunately he had some sexual issues which completely undermined his later efforts and he ended up … well … you probably ought to read it.