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True History of the Kelly Gang (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Peter Carey

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3,160571,771 (3.66)236
Member:Niecierpek
Title:True History of the Kelly Gang
Authors:Peter Carey
Info:Vintage Books USA (2001), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:owned, unread

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

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Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
'the terror of the unyielding law...the knowledge of unfairness were deep in his bones and marrow'
By sally tarbox on 8 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
'I do not know what childhood or youth I ever had. What remained if any were finally taken away inside that gaol boiled off me like fat and marrow is rendered within the tallow pot'.
An absorbing narrative, supposedly by Kelly himself and intended for his daughter, this brings out the brutality of late 19th century life in Australia. With power firmly in the hands of the Anglo-Australians, the poor Irish were at their mercy.
A cumulation of events, notably the imprisonment of his beloved mother, propels him to extreme action...
From beginning this book with a vague impression of Kelly as just an outlaw who got his comeuppance, I finished it with a lot of empathy for his hard life and was rooting for him. Sometimes it felt like it just went from one violent incident to the next; nonetheless it kept me reading and will remain with me. ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
I am proud of my Irish heritage and it always surprises me how reviled the Irish were not that long ago. If Ned Kelly had been English instead of Irish or maybe if he had been Protestant instead of Catholic would his story have been different? I guess we will never know but it is clear from this book that the Irish in Australia were perceived as a lower order than the English.

Ned Kelly's father was a convict who was transported from Ireland to Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania). After he finished his sentence Red Kelly moved to the colony of Victoria where he met Ellen Quinn and married her. The Quinns were always in trouble with the police and soon Red was subject to police harassment as well. When the Quinns decided to move to land in the northeast of the territory, Red thought it would be just as well to stay away from them. A bad drought came and Ned caught a neighbour's calf to put food on the table. Red was accused of the theft and put into prison. Soon after he was released he died. Ellen then decided to move with all her children (eight at the time) to land near her family. Life on the frontier was hard for everyone but especially for a young widow with children. Ned, as the oldest boy, tried to make a go of the farm but his troubles with the police continued. In time he was on the run with his brother and two other friends and they were known as the Kelly Gang.

This book is written as if Ned Kelly had written it himself. It is addressed to his daughter and the purpose was to give his daughter the facts of his life rather than all the lies from the police and newspapers. Kelly had considerable support amongst the poor of the district due to his 'Robin Hood' endeavours of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. He and his gang even helped farmers bring in their harvests. Although he had not had much education he could read and write and he was very smart. In other circumstances he could have gone on to be a successful businessman or farmer or perhaps even a politician.

Highly recommended. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jun 6, 2016 |
I found the story of Ned Kelly's life to be interesting. The writing style, the book is written as if Kelly actually wrote it, was annoying and distracted from the story at times. The writing is full of run on sentences, no quotation marks, abbreviations and lots of adjectivials in place of swear words. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
There's a rumour in my family, well at least it was the story that my grandfather always told, that some of our family helped out the Kelly Gang. And whether or not it's true, they were certainly the right demographic - Irish Catholic ex-convicts who lived in poverty in country Victoria.

Due in large part to relating to the people and the land in the story so strongly, this was a fantastic read for me. Carey fictionalised the story of Ned Kelly's life, and I enjoyed the way he captured Ned Kelly's voice, based on actual writings he left behind. Before he was hanged. (Point of note, I grew up on a farm near Jerilderie, of the famous Jerilderie Letter) ( )
  evilmoose | Dec 13, 2015 |
The voice of Ned Kelly is exquisitely brought to life by Peter Carey. This is a tough read, both as a result of its style and the story of the doomed bushranger. ( )
  deckehoe | Nov 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Careyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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 lest 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)

Ned Kelly, the legendary nineteenth-century Australian folk-hero, describes how he, his brother, and two friends led authorities on a twenty-month manhunt, marked by widespread populist support, before his capture and execution.

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