I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back

Paul Hyde
One Bold Deed of Open Treason: Roger Casement’s Berlin Diary 1914-1916, ed Angus Mitchell, Merrion Press, 288 pp, ISBN: 978-1785370564 No honourable and sincere man, said Stephen, has given up to you his life and his youth and his affections from the days of Tone to those of Parnell, but you sold him to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, first published in 1914-15, at the same time as Casement was writing his Berlin diary. The construction of the historical narrative about Casement is not yet complete a hundred years after his execution. In his afterlife he still provokes painful and profound questions about the nature of loyalty, integrity and the state, questions about authority, justice and power. Angus Mitchell, in his introduction to this splendidly produced volume, writes: “Even if Ireland still finds it hard to accept Casement …” without indicating why Ireland finds it hard. But perhaps this is because there are so many Casements to choose from, because his historical identity is so fissured. Heroes, like martyrs, are usually of one piece. The multiple kaleidoscopic identities of Casement have still not coalesced into the coherent understandable unity required for closure. He was a man of terrifying integrity or of none, a megalomaniac or a man who “eliminated self”, a defiant enemy of imperial power or simply a traitor, emotionally unstable or rational and lucid, a homosexual or a man besmirched by his enemies. Today, most people have chosen their Casement but it is always unwise to choose without complete knowledge of the “product”. That our knowledge of Casement is still incomplete is demonstrated by the frequent publication of new studies, online and press articles. This year alone there have been numerous and extensive articles on Casement in the Irish and UK press plus a dedicated edition of the online Irish Studies review Breac. One Bold Deed of Open Treason, edited by Angus Mitchell, is a valuable addition to serious scholarship about Casement and the causes of the First World War; its special value lies in how it affords the reader the opportunity to hear Casement’s voice as he intended it to be heard at a critical time in his life. When he wrote “The Berlin Diary”, from late 1914 to March 1916, Casement was fully aware that he had crossed…

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