Literature – letter to a king


I am currently reading The Years, Virginia Woolf’s last novel, published in 1937. Actually, I bought the book accidentally, in French, mistaking it for Ernaud’s Les Années.

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse happen to be among the very few books I have read twice. Having dutifully read some 20 % of The Years in French, I therefore decided that even the French language cannot do justice to Virginia Woolf’s beautiful prose. So I bought the book in English, too.

I haven’t finished it. Superb literature is often like a box of chocolates – you don’t want to eat more than “two or three” at a time – but I already consider this novel superior to the two she is best known for, because it delves deeply into the nature of society itself. I will not go into detail, since this blog is not, after all, about literature.

Why do I speak of it then, The Years? Because in it, Woolf mentions a hero, Parnell, presumably Charles Parnell, reviled and adulated. I had to look him up .

At the time, I have just learnt, the press was very keen to trumpet certain aspects of his private life. But we now know that he was a formidable opponent of “landlordism” and “British misgovernment”.

…within two decades absentee landlords were almost unknown in Ireland. He created single-handedly in the Irish Party Britain’s first modern, disciplined, political-party machine. He held all the reins of Irish nationalism and also harnessed Irish-America to finance the cause. He played an important role in the rise and fall of British governments in the mid-1880s and in Gladstone’s conversion to Irish Home Rule.

Wikipedia as at 4 July 2024

Reading about him reminded me that often – very often – we don’t realise until after a person’s death how much we owe him or her. Parnell was only 45 when he died.

Assange might well have died just 10 years older, had he not been released in the nick of time. That does not mean that we can forget all about him, though. On the contrary, it is vitally important that we examine and understand what Wikileaks revealed. Only by knowing the world we live in can we change it for the better.

Of course you have heard of and probably even seen the video footage “colateral murder”. It it is merely the tip of an iceberg.

In 2019-2020, a series of 9 (or 10) articles attempted to summarise what Wikileaks had revealed. There is a shortcut to the story:
Marjorie Cohn’s recent analysis Here’s What He’s Given Us.

Or: If you wish to go to the sources, here’s from the horse’s mouth: Wikileaks .. the lot

As for Julian Assange’s own literary output, his letter to King Charles (dated 5 May 2023), may perhaps serve as an example.