El sueno del Celta by Mario Vargas Llosa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Without any doubt, this is a good book: a great story about an interesting character, written in the well known fluent and catching style of Llosa. But unfortunately, not as good as I was expecting. Yes, I understand that Llosa wanted to present his representation of Roger Casement, the controversial Irish hero who was adulated and hated, honoured and despised, respected and forgotten and then respected again. And the resulted portrait is quite a success, but somehow Llosa was too expeditive. The stories about Casement’s work in Congo and Amazonia are pretty much the same. They developed in the same frame of black and white and they had the same generic characters with almost no exception. Moreover, these stories are considered to be the reason for Casement’s political radicalism and nationalism, and therefore I think, Llosa failed to explain the big change in his hero’s life, the gap between his early believes and late actions. He idealised Casement, though he intended the opposite. His own interpretation of The Black Diaries is also part of the idealisation process: yes, Casement was a homosexual, a sinful catholic, but no, under any circumstances he was not able to really do what he pretended that he had done.
"The Dream of the Celt" reminds me very well of "The Way to Paradise", and I find many similarities between Roger Casement and Paul Gaugain, as they were portrayed by Llosa. It is both touching and disturbing their destructive way of following their dream. But being honest, I enjoyed more “The Way to Paradise” .
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