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

by Peter Carey

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2,927None1,958 (3.67)203
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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English (46)  Danish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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 |
neutral rating.. found some of it interesting but I had a hard time wading through the verbiage in this book. Using the local slang of the time seemed a good idea at first but became frustrating - lots of words I had to look up and that loses me - I like to immerse myself in a book and immersion suffers when you need a "heads up" every so often. ( )
  Mecaza | Mar 7, 2014 |
Our first Peter Carey novel was met with positive views all around this month. Although not all members got a chance to finish it, those who did rated it high and found Carey’s unique interpretation of Ned very enjoyable and it helped to build an empathy for the poorer immigrants of the time.
We had a great discussion on Irish genealogy and the corrupt conduct of the police. Our overall perception of Ned was that given the prejudice his family experienced, he didn’t have much chance of getting on the right side of the law.
Does this mean Ned Kelly was not the dangerous bushranger we are led to believe? We are not sure about that, but Carey’s take on the history certainly leaves room for doubt, and along with it, an extremely enjoyable read!
Monday Night Book Club ( )
  DaptoLibrary | Nov 18, 2013 |
I read this book while in Australia, and was a little disappointed, as I felt I could have learnt as much from a documentary or film. If you know nothing of Ned Kelly it works as a reference point - but does not answer the question I wanted to know, "why do most Australians idolise Ned Kelly so much?" ( )
  IanMPindar | May 16, 2013 |
This book is probably better to listen to than to read. The language is very pleasant, rolling over you. Loved the use of "adjectival" - it kept making me smile. The structure of the novel is intriguing and the author made some interesting choices. I knew nothing of this piece of history and it's easy to see why the story still has power and significance to Australians. ( )
  idyll | Apr 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The past is not dead. It is not even past.

-- William Faulkner
Dedication
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:40 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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