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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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The traitor and the hero

The traitor and the hero

War, betrayal and espionage

(p.129) Chapter Five The traitor and the hero
The Literary Afterlives of Roger Casement, 1899-2016

Alison Garden


In the years immediately prior to, and of, the Second World War textual glimmers of an unnamed Roger Casement can be detected in a preoccupation with the ghostly return of Irish history. As Ireland grappled with what role she could or should play in the (impending) war, a role complicated immeasurably by the precarious border and new Northern statelet, numerous authors grappled with an Irish history compromised by unclear allegiances and betrayal. This chapter uses a collection of mid-twentieth century texts – James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939), Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero’ (1944) and Elizabeth Bowe’s The Heat of the Day (1948) – to map how the interlinking preoccupations of espionage, betrayal and, frequently, sexual intimacy, are deeply connected, implicitly or explicitly, to the haunting spectre of Casement.

Keywords:   James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, Jorge Luis Borges, Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day, Betrayal, Espionage, The Emergency, World War II, Anglo-Irish relationship

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