Paul Bailey

From the Black Diaries

The Dream of the Celt


Faber & Faber 404pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

The Dream of the Celt begins and ends in Pentonville Prison in the summer of 1916, where the Irish nationalist Roger Casement waits to hear if he will be hanged as a traitor. There are substantial reasons why he should receive a last-minute pardon, given his exemplary record as a consul in King Leopold’s deeply corrupt Congo and his fearless investigation into the shady dealings of Julio C Arana’s London-based Peruvian Amazon Company. He has fought a long, noble battle against the exploitation, by greedy Europeans, of the indigenous peoples of Africa and South America. His detailed and entirely disinterested reports on the savage treatment of the men and women forced to work in degrading conditions for the accumulation of rubber have led to him receiving a knighthood for services to the humanitarian cause. These huge achievements, which have already assured him a place in history, have recently been undermined by his fanatical involvement with those determined to liberate Ireland from the British yoke. To this end, he has sought the cooperation of the Germans in supplying weapons to his fellow patriots – perhaps the one seriously misguided venture in an otherwise commendable public life.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,