Tony Last and Julian Assange

A UK political blogger has posted a message comparing the plight of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the hero of Waugh’s novel Handful of Dust. This was T0ny Last, who:

… ends the book trapped as a prisoner in the Brazilian jungle – the plaything of an insane tribal chief – having to continually read Charles Dickens’ “Little Dorrit” to the inhabitants…I thought of this in connection with Julian Assange. He was born in the wonderful town of Townsville in Queensland, Australia …, a place of sun, sea and sugar beet. By an oddly circuitous route, he has ended up surrounded by Harrod’s hampers in a room in Knightsbridge. He may not enjoy walks in the park but he can eat hand cut piccalilli on demerera shortbreads. There is a great deal of the ridiculous – and tragic – in the whole episode. The similarity with “Handful of Dust” breaks down in that the book’s main character, Tony Last, did not do anything to bring about his ridiculous situation. That cannot be said for Julian Assange.

It was not just Little Dorrit that Tony had to read to Mr. Todd, but the complete works of Dickens save a few that had been devoured by ants. Moreover, whether Mr. Todd was a “tribal chief” is questionable. He was a half caste whose father was a Christian missionary from Barbados and mother, a member of the local tribe. But despite these minor lapses, the blogger may be onto something here. Perhaps the Dickens Fellowship could send over a team to the Embassy of Ecuador to read nonstop from their master’s oeuvre until the hapless Ecuadoreans are relieved of their uninvited guest.

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