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True History of the Kelly Gang: A Novel Paperback – December 4, 2001
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"The Swans of Fifth Avenue" by Melanie Benjamin
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What's to be gained from telling this illiterate bushranger's story yet again? Quite a lot, as it turns out. For starters, there is the remarkable vernacular poetry of Carey's narrative voice. Fierce, funny, ungrammatical, steeped in Irish legends and the frontier's moral code, this voice is the novel's great achievement--and perhaps the greatest in Carey's distinguished career. It paints a vivid picture of an Australia where English landowners skim off the country's best territory while government land grants allow the settlers just enough acreage to starve. Cheated, lied to, and persecuted by the authorities at every opportunity, young Kelly retains no faith in his colonial masters. What he does trust, oddly, is the power of words:
And here is the thing about them men they was Australians they knew full well the terror of the unyielding law the historic memory of UNFAIRNESS were in their blood and a man might be a bank clerk or an overseer he might never have been lagged for nothing but still he knew in his heart what it were to be forced to wear the white hood in prison he knew what it were to be lashed for looking a warder in the eye ... so the knowledge of unfairness were deep in his bone and in his marrow.Ned Kelly as literary hero? Strangely enough, that's what he becomes, at least in Carey's rendering. Pouring his heart out in a series of letters to the country at large, Kelly wants nothing more than to be heard--and for the dirt-poor son of an Irish convict, that's an audacious ambition indeed. It's not so surprising, then, that his story continues to speak to Australians. Like all colonial countries, Australia was built at a steep human price, and the memory of all those silenced voices lives on. True History of the Kelly Gang takes its epigraph from Faulkner: "The past is not dead. It is not even past." And like Faulkner's own vast chronicle of dispossession, it's haunted by tragedies as large as history itself. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Peter Carey has garnered critical and commercial praise for his ingenuity, empathy, and poetic ear. Visit Amazon's Peter Carey Page.
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Top Customer Reviews
In his seventh novel Peter Carey tells the historically-based story of Ned Kelly and his Irish-rooted fellow-outlaws, from their early days to their early deaths. In the case of this brilliant story, narrated in the first person, "tell", might be an inappropriate term because the voice Carey invent leads us to believe that Ned Kelly himself is the author of these highly vernacular lines. Poor grammar and minimal punctuation make the book hard to read to begin with, but once you have entered it you will never want to leave the colonial South of Australia. Using these unpromising language resources, Carey makes Ned write down his life-story for his daughter (whom he never meets) to justify and rectify all the crimes he is accused of.
But can this Ned Kelly really be accused of anything?
In 19th century Australia, where British landowners settle the best parts of the country and poor settlers nearly starve to death, Ned Kelly grows up in a poor Irish family. Carey gives us great insight into these harsh times when Ned is, from his childhood on, confronted with death, prison, betrayal and permanent unjust treatment at the hands of the police. The young horse thief Kelly grows into a bank robber, bandit, kidnapper and therefore the most wanted man in the whole colony. Yet, his sense of responsibility towards his family, his loyalty to his fellows and his never-ending struggle for justice make him a warm-hearted, loveable hero and ensure him a place in the hearts of Australians to this day.Read more ›
Another book that has dealt with trying to get into the real character of Ned Kelly was Our Sunshine. I feel that "True History of the Kelly Gang" gives us a more in depth feel into one view of what the true Ned Kelly was like. The characters in the book comes alive and at times, you forget that this was not written by Carey but by Ned himself (which is what Carey wants the reader to do). The grammatical errors and the lack of punctuation did become confusing at times but, trust me, you get used to it and it also makes the story come alive and makes it very, very believable. It is almost like the new phase of Reality TV but better.
The book deals with all the events that Ned Kelly went through and Carey weaves all these events with Kelly's personal life and an example of what he might have felt during different stages of his life. The layout of the "project" is given to the reader in a package form from his younger days to his early death. It is extremely detailed and it is obvious that a lot of painstaking research was poured into the book and it is evident that Carey actually became the Ned that he was painting in his mind.
This is a book that has everything - murder, love, family, loyalty, betrayal, action and most of all, it is able to draw the reader into the situation to feel what all the characters are feeling.Read more ›
The precise nature of Ned Kelly's lawlessness is central to Carey's book, for most of Kelly's crimes are seen as reactions against a cruel and unjust system being enacted against immigrants by the predominantly British system in Australia. For example, when Kelly is accused of stealing another horse, but when the case comes to trial the dates do not match up, the accused being out of the area when the theft was alleged to have taken place. The result of the trial is still a conviction. Kelly is found "guilty of receiving a horse not yet legally stolen." Finally, when Ned Kelly and his three companions are being hunted for the attempted murder of a policeman-something Kelly denies in his history-there is a shootout at Stringybark Creek resulting in the deaths of three constables. Kelly realizes that the only way to discourage the locals from turning them in is to pay them more than the reward money being offered by the authorities. After some audacious bank robberies to raise such funds the Kelly gang are cornered in Mrs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story of the Kelly gang is legendary and is firmly embedded in the Australian consciousness. It's no accident that a nation founded by convicts identified so strongly with an... Read morePublished 2 months ago by AvisE
This tome is (Initially) very difficult to read as most of it purports to be written by a semi-literate Ned Kelly himself. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Bevan
This is not written in
English. This is written in dialect. Booker prize or not, it's a tough read for an old geezer and not worth it.
Need Kelly was a man pushed to commit the crimes he committed. Left alone he would live & healthy life.Published 6 months ago by Thomas John Gibbs
Ned Kelly narrates his story from early childhood to the Glenrowan siege ; a life that is pre ordained to fail be he good or bad as he is poor, Irish and from convict stock. Read morePublished 8 months ago by An admirer of Saul
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon.com. Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule. Read morePublished 11 months ago by The Cosy Dragon (Rose Herbert)