The dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa

dream of the Celt Mario Vargas Llosa

The dream of the Celt  by Mario Vargas Llosa

Peruvian Fiction

Translator – Edith Grossman

Original Title -El sueño del celta

Source Library

Just other two yyears ago after he had won the Nobel prize for Literature I reviewed his novel the bad Girl which I enjoyed ,this is his latest book published in Spanish in 2010 ,this translation was published last Year and done by the Wonderful Edith Grossman .Mario Vargas is easily the most well known name from Peruvian fiction this book is his 15th novel in a career that dates back to 1959 and the start of the Latin American Boom .

When in Liverpool with his cousins ,Roger sometimes conquered his timidity and Asked Uncle Edward about Africa ,a vontinent whose mere mention filled his head with Jungles ,wild animals and interpid men .

The first time we see the draw of Africa on Roger Casement

This book focus on the well Known Irish nationalist figure Sir Roger Casement ,I say well-known before I read the book I knew he was associated with Ireland had been executed by the british and he was part of some sort of scandal .So to the book Yes Roger Casement was from Ireland and the book takes you through his youth there then to time spent in Africa ,Peru and the amazon basin then back to Ireland .The book is about a man’s journey  Form Idealist , British Diplomat to Disillusioned ,humanitarian and Irish freedom Fighter .We see  this youth In Ballymena (just thought mention this it isn’t a large part but my step mother is also from this town in Northern Ireland ) he is a quiet and quite shy young man growing up much different to the figure he later became ,Then in his late teens  joining the British government as a diplomat . Where he ends up being sent to Congo ,where he see the horrors of the dying embers of the slave traders and How the white Europeans treat the natives ,whilst in Congo he meet two well-known figures in History ,the Explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley and the Novelist Joseph Conrad .Then he is sent to sort out and report back on a dispute in Peru involving the Local tribes of Indians Seven in all and The rubber company .The Indians have decided they need more rights ,because we see people whip and mistreated for not following the company lines or doing what was expected .Following all this he returns to Ireland where his views on his own home land and nation have changed radically and he ends up on the Gaol waiting to be killed  .Well  a lot as you see ,oh and he was gay and tend to like younger men than himself (rather well handle by Llosa it is easy to make this the main theme of the book ,which it could but this is a book on the wrongs of Empire really ) at a time when this was against the law .

O what has made that sudden noise?
What on the threshold stands?
It never crossed the sea because
John Bull and the sea are friends;
But this is not the old sea
Nor this the old seashore.
What gave that roar of mockery,
That roar in the sea’s roar?

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

John Bull has stood for Parliament,
A dog must have his day,
The country thinks no end of him,
For he knows how to say,
At a beanfeast or a banquet,
That all must hang their trust
Upon the British Empire,
Upon the Church of Christ.

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

Instead of a second quote I choose to put two verse of the W B yeats poem about Casement which is also quoted in the book

So I suppose like me reading this book on the blurb , the first name that came to mind with this book Is Conrad ,Yes it is similar settings but this is more a view of the natives downfall through a European eyes that Conrad’s books are ,I was also reminded of the recent novels by Bernardo  Atxaga  seven house in France  which I review  here and other book dealing with  the horrors in the Congo at roughly the same time as this book .Another book Ithat sprung to mind was the last but one book by Juan Gabriel Vasquez which I also reviewed on here The secret history of Costaguana another book which set in Latin america and based on a Conrad novel .Vargas has tried to show through one man the wrongs of empire and also how empires are able to fall .The horror of the treatment the locals around the world is eye-opening to you as a reader ,but also to Casement and lead him down a new path seeing these horrors .

Have you read this book ?

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian Joseph
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 17:02:45

    Great commentary Stu.

    Mario Vargas Llosa has been on my list to read for years. I need to get to him soon.

    A reading of books like this, as well as real history really opens one’s eyes to the terrible things that people have done to each other over time.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 10, 2013 @ 20:04:14

      He is worth try brain a shock a bit when he won Nobel but when thought back on his books deserved this is particularly good one by him all the best stu


  2. Guy Savage
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 17:46:14

    confession: I’ve never read anything by this author, but I’m sadly lacking when it comes to S. American fiction. I’ve read some crime stuff, of course. Love Paco Ignacio Taibo II. (He’s Spanish but emigrated to mexico)


  3. farmlanebooks
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 19:26:47

    I have a copy of this book, but your comparison to Seven Houses has put me right off it!!I’ll have to try one of his others (I think I own 2 others) first!


  4. Heather
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 21:50:53

    I haven’t read this book, though I have been looking for a Peruvian author who has been translated to english. I have requested The Green House from my library. Thanks Stu.


  5. Amateur Reader (Tom)
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 03:20:10

    Sebald has a chapter about Casement in The Rings of Saturn. It is almost a genre!


  6. Mel u
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 03:22:48

    Not long ago I read my first work by LLosa, a short story, “The Cubs”, which followed the lives of a group of young men in Lima from their teens to middle age-it was very well done-I recently read Grossman’s translation of Don Quixote and her prose style is great-


  7. Tony
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 08:26:03

    Sigh – I’ve been meaning to get to South American lit. for a couple of years now. Maybe next year…


  8. Geosi
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 17:04:35

    Have not read this though Mario has been on my list for a long time. all best stu


  9. Trackback: The rings of saturn by W G Sebald | Winstonsdad's Blog

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February 2013


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