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True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter…
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True History of the Kelly Gang (2000)

by Peter Carey

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English (66)  Danish (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
“I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false.”

In True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semiliterate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.
  JESGalway | Apr 12, 2018 |
This is a really excellent historical novel: Carey imagines how Ned Kelly might have told his own story, justifying himself and showing how the social conditions of 19th century Australia pushed him into a direction where his only realistic choice was to resist the forces of law and order that had already written him off because of the (Irish, emancipee) family he came from. The world took it for granted that he had to be a criminal, so he became one.

Obviously we are meant to read this more broadly than the specific period it is set in - Carey is showing us what life might look like if you are struggling to survive at the very bottom of society and everyone seems to be against you. But it also works extremely well as an historical novel - Kelly's semi-literate narrative voice is very convincing and consistent, and he gives us a very clear idea of what life was like at the bottom of the heap in rural Victoria. I'm not a judge of Australian idiom, but there was nothing that struck a jarring note for me. There is a lot of violence and unpleasantness in the story, inevitably, but Carey never allows Kelly to enjoy it or take it for granted. He kills policemen because it has become the only way to prevent them from killing him, but it disgusts him to have to do it.

I don't suppose that this is in any way a neutral and objective account of Kelly's life, but it's an entertaining and thought-provoking novel, and I'm glad I got around to it at last. ( )
1 vote thorold | Aug 28, 2017 |
Wow, this was amazing. Ned Kelly, legendary Australian bushranger, tells his story in an urgent vernacular style. I was completely convinced both that this was his voice and that the Kelly family had been unjustly persecuted by the law for years. He was sent to prison at age 15 and by the time he was 26 had killed policemen and was the most wanted man in Australia. He and his gang took over towns and robbed banks but were known to share their takings with the poor. I knew how it would end - Ned’s gang’s last standoff wearing forged metal armor is the stuff of legends - but I was fascinated by how the whole thing unfolded. The book seems to have followed the truth pretty closely, according to Wikipedia. Kelly did write a long document explaining himself that is now in a museum. ( )
  piemouth | Jun 18, 2017 |
I have long wanted to read this book as my late mother gave it to my husband many years ago at my behest.
It is an intriguing look at the life of Ned Kelly one of Australia's most notorious outlaws.
it is narrated by Ned. This device has the reader sympathising with this misunderstood and misjudged character who is depicted as more of a Robin Hood type character. I found the setting had a very strong impact on me also. The vivid portrayals of life in these rural communities, among the early settlers, many descended from convicts was eye-opening.
I am sure this is a tale which will stay with me for sometime. The one quibble I have was the lack of punctuation which had me rereading sentences on many occasions. However I do realise this was a device to make it seem more authentic, as Ned Kelly was of limited education. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jun 12, 2017 |
Although I have no burning desire to visit Australia, I find something especially appealing in most Aussie culture, including books, films and music. Peter Carey its one of my favorite authors. There is a density to his writing that I love. He is such a wonderful storyteller that his books pull me forward, reading faster than I want to. His writing is so good that I want to slow down and savor it but it's hard. This book in particular, written as if in Ned Kelly's own hand, was a joy. It added immeasurably to the sense of time and place.....Australia in the late 1800's. Telling the true tale of Ned Kelly, a classic everyman hero, Peter Carey honors his country's must famous outlaw. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Careyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hériz, Enrique deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The past is not dead. It is not even past.

-- William Faulkner
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for Alison Summers
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By dawn at least half the members of the Kelly gang were badly wounded and it was then the creature appeared from behind police lines.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375724672, Paperback)

"What is it about we Australians, eh?" demands a schoolteacher near the end of Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang. "Do we not have a Jefferson? A Disraeli? Might not we find someone better to admire than a horse-thief and a murderer?" It's the author's sole nod to the contradictory feelings Ned Kelly continues to evoke today, more than a century after his death. A psychopathic killer to some, a crusading folk hero to others, Kelly was a sharpshooting outlaw who eluded a brutal police manhunt for nearly two years. For better or worse, he's now a part of the Australian national myth. Indeed, the opening ceremonies for the Sydney Olympics featured an army of Ned Kellys dancing about to Irish music, which puts him in the symbolic company of both kangaroos and Olivia Newton-John.

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In The True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.… (more)

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