On Monday, November 22nd at 4:30pm in McCosh 50, Peruvian novelist, critic of authoritarian regimes, and recent winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa will sit with acclaimed Irish poet Paul Muldoon to discuss Roger Casement, an Irishman well-known for his reports against human rights abuses in Peru. As though Casement’s shared nationality with the former and political convictions with the latter were not good enough reason to bring the two literary superstars together, he is also the subject of Llosa’s most recent novel, _El sueño del Celta_ [_The Dream of the Celt_], and the two are both members of the Lewis Center for the Art’s extraordinarily talented cohort of professors in the Program in Creative Writing.
If you haven’t heard yet, Llosa is a visiting professor (in the Program in Latin American Studies and the Lewis Center for the Arts) who won the Nobel Prize in Literature about a month ago. Ever since, Llosa has “said [that] he is overwhelmed with interview requests and that his adored daily routine is now in chaos,” the Associated Press reports, “but he insists, ‘I will continue to write and talk. It is the supreme passion. […] Death will find me with my pen in hand.’” This kind of dedication and enthusiasm for writing is probably why Llosa still comes to class instead of playing hooky and investing his $1.5 million prize in ice cream (apparently an actual offer according to _The New York Times_).
If you’re not thoroughly convinced you that you want to go to the lecture just so that you can glory in the presence of such literary champs, I’d like to share with you something about the subject of the discussion himself. Casement is a fascinating historical figure worthy of the attention of Llosa, Muldoon, and this article. Born in Ireland in 1864, Sir Roger Casement was a British consul in Portuguese East Africa, Congo Free State, and Brazil from 1895-1911. He became famous for his reports on the cruelties of exploitation of native labor by white traders in the Congo and in Peru. Half a century before Llosa’s short political career, Casement fought for much the same cause as did Llosa: human rights, in Llosa’s property rights and in Casement’s indigenous rights.
Later, Casement unfortunately sailed for Ireland in a German submarine in the middle of World War I. For this, he was sentenced to death. Although influential Englishmen tried to secure a reprieve in view of his past services to the British government, they must’ve failed for he was executed for treason in London in 1916 and became one of the principal Irish martyrs in the revolt against British rule in Ireland.
Another interesting tidbit about Casement to bring with you to the lecture is that Casement is likely homosexual, according to some diaries describing homosexual practices that are generally considered to be in Casement’s handwriting. For more information about the event or the speakers, check out www.princeton.edu/arts.