This book explores the literary afterlives of Ireland’s most enigmatic, shape-shifting and controversial son: Roger Casement. A seminal human rights activist, a key figure in the struggle for Irish independence, a traitor to British imperialism and an enthusiastic recorder of a sexual life lived in the shadows, Casement has offered writers a symbol of ambivalence and multiplicity. Casement can be found in the most curious of places: from the imperial horrors of Heart of Darkness (1899) to the gay club culture of 1980s London in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming-Pool Library (1998); from George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan (1923) to a love affair between spies in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1948); from the post-Easter Rising elegies of Eva Gore-Booth and Alice Milligan to the beguiling, opaque poetry of Medbh McGuckian. Drawing upon a variety of literary and cultural texts, alongside significant archival research, this book establishes dialogues between modernist and contemporary works to argue that Casement’s ghost animates issues of historical pertinence and pressing contemporary relevance. It positions Casement as a vital and fascinating figure in the compromised and contradictory terrain of Anglo-Irish history.
'This is a welcome study, learned,
wide-ranging and on a fascinating and timely topic.'
Professor Matthew Campbell, University of York