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True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter…

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

by Peter Carey

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Title:True History of the Kelly Gang
Authors:Peter Carey
Info:Vintage Books USA (2001), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (2000)



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Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
absolutely loved this fictionalized biography of Australian folk hero Ned Kelly. This is a Booker Winner that is definitely worthy of the prize.

Ned Kelly was an outlaw, viewed by the police and some citizens as a hardened criminal, a heartless monster. To many however, he was a persecuted Irishman who was forced into some of the actions he took. His story is written in the first person, in prose that on the one hand is semi-literate and on the other hand poetic. It begins:

"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."

The true Ned Kelly left behind an "justification" in his own words, "the Jerilderie Letter" which was discovered in the 1930's. This letter is an interesting read in and of itself, and as confirmation as to how well Carey captured Ned Kelly's voice. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Oct 2, 2015 |
This one had been sitting on my shelves long enough that I thought it was high time to read it, but it didn't really work for me. ( )
  mari_reads | May 17, 2015 |
This book is a very impressive attempt to get inside the head of Australia's most famous outlaw Ned Kelly. Full of humour, period detail and with a lively and fast moving narrative, the book is also very strong on social history, concentrating on the injustices suffered by the Irish poor in 19th century Victoria. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 22, 2015 |
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper in 2001, Peter Carey stated that the idea for writing a history of Ned Kelly started when he read the so-called Jerilderie Letter in a museum in the 1960s. This 8,000 word, 56-page letter was dictated to fellow gang member Joe Byrne by Ned following the robbery of the Jerilderie bank in 1879. In it Ned explains why he has been driven to lead a life as a bushranger following persecution of his family by a corrupt police force and victimisation of poor Irish families by the wealthy English squatters.In the letter, Ned gives his version of events and gives his account of the killing of three police officers at Stringybark Creek in 1978 saying "... this cannot be called wilful murder for I was compelled to shoot them, or lie down and let them shoot me". Carey describes the letter as uneducated but intelligent, humorous but also angry and says that "His language came in a great, furious rush that could not but remind you of far more literary Irish writers."

In this novel, Carey has recreated Ned's voice as he heard it in the letter and used it to tell the story of the Kelly Gang. The novel is written in the first person using a stream of rich, almost poetic Irish-Australian vernacular from the 1880s. The cast of characters including his mother Ellen, brother Dan and sister Kate, his best friend Joe Byrne,opium-eater Aaron,and the cross-dressing Steve Hart are all colorfully described so that we have a sympathy and understanding of their natures. Wonderfully re-imagined, the novel is as much a comment on the politics of the time and the struggle between the families of poor convicts eking out a living and the wealthier settlers as it is the story of a bushranger. ( )
  cscott | May 27, 2014 |
Great book.
One of my favorite 'little known historical' books.
Carey is a good author - I'll read more of his books.
Wow - had not one clue about some of the facts I learned about the Kelly boys.
Having spent some time in Australia made this exceptionally interesting. Certainly puts a face and explanation behind the Aussie Song -"Blame it on the Kellys"
Read in 2006. ( )
  CasaBooks | Mar 14, 2014 |
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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
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)

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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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