My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It was a fateful day for a man, it was a fortuitous day for a crown. A man of imposing physique with a more imposing spiritual credo stood there speechless in the cellar of the House of Lords stocked with barrels of gunpowder that could blow up the parliament to the detritus of the past sovereign supremacy. The captors were in awe of the man’s imperturbability amid the silent trepidation of the weight of aborted stratagem. He was no less than a person than Guido “Guy” Fawkes himself, one of the eight Gunpowder conspirators, the man whose effigies are ceremoniously mocked and burned on 5th of every November throughout England as his eternal Promethean punishment for defiant treason since 1605.
Nick Holland’s The Real Guy Fawkes tells it all about who this unfortunate but formidable man of unshakable faith in his realistic discourse of the accused based on historical evidence gleaned from his exhaustive research superbly blended with his vivid storytelling narrative skills that resurrect the atmosphere and ethos of the era contributing to the making of Guy Fawkes. We see young Protestant Guy with a great linguistic talent, good looks, and full of life, playing a Nine Men’s Morris with his friends. We witness Guy’s conversion to Catholicism, his stint as a valorous soldier in the Spanish Army in Flanders, his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot as the right-hand man of Robert Catesby, the charismatic leader who wanted to bring his beloved England to the One, Holy, Apostolic Church, and his last moment on the scaffold. He was a passionate man of faith who keeps his words by actions, and the image of Guy Fawkes overlaps with that of Father Mendoza in the film “The Mission”, who tried to revolt against the tyrannical oppression of despotism suppressing a freedom of wills and faith incompatible with its claim of totalitarian supremacy over individualism.
Holland’s role of compassionate and open-minded narrator helps the reader to understand what motivated Guy Fawkes to involve in such an epochal plot and who the person of Guy Fawkes was. The infamy that chained Guy Fawkes in the unbroken shackles in the darkest dungeon of history becomes justifiably lessen, and the eternal mockery of his likeness becomes faded off as a collective echo of demotic populism orchestrated by the powers-that-be with systematic religious prejudice. Personally, I feel that the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day is akin to the eternal punishment of Prometheus, which should be lifted in order that his soul can rest in peace. If you feel the way I do, or if you understand what it meant to be a Catholic in the Reformation era and before the Second Vatican Council, then you will probably agree with me.