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The Literary Afterlives of Roger Casement, 1899-2016$
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Alison Garden

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621815

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621815.001.0001

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“He could tell you things! Things I’ve tried to forget; things I never did know”

“He could tell you things! Things I’ve tried to forget; things I never did know”

Conrad, Sebald and spectres of imperialism

(p.23) Chapter One “He could tell you things! Things I’ve tried to forget; things I never did know”
The Literary Afterlives of Roger Casement, 1899-2016

Alison Garden


The relationship between Casement and Conrad has long fascinated many, with W.G. Sebald fictionalising their meeting in The Rings of Saturn (1998) as part of the text’s engagement with Conrad’s novella and archival trail. For Sebald, Casement galvanises a set of interlinked preoccupations: the catastrophes of modernity, state-sponsored violence, the fragility of memory and the unavoidable spectre of history. Tracing the dialogue between these two works - embodied by Casement’s ghost - enables us to read the metamodernist aesthetics of Sebald as a form of ghostly intertextual memory, indicative of the post-imperial debris that continues to haunt our contemporary moment. Reading Heart of Darkness through The Rings of Saturn opens up both texts in enabling, fruitful ways; just as reading Casement through Conrad’s archive provides us with novel ways of reading the two men and Conrad’s work.

Keywords:   Heart of Darkness, The Rings of Saturn, Joseph Conrad, W.G. Sebald, The Congo Free State, Metamodernism, Memory Studies, Imperial literature, Postcolonial literature

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