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True History of the Kelly Gang (2000)

by Peter Carey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,269792,812 (3.69)323
As he flees the police, Ned Kelly scribbles his narrative in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose. To his pursuers he is a thief and a murderer. To his own people he's a hero for opposing the English. Ned, who saw his first prison cell at 15, has become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over towns and defying authority. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist. There are no sentences like these in all Australian literature and yet they could only have grown from our soil.… (more)
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» See also 323 mentions

English (78)  Danish (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Enchanting, instructive, masterful. ( )
  Kalapana | Jan 22, 2024 |
Written as supposed letters to his infant daughter this story of Ned Kelly moves slowly and the detail and nature of the dialogue don't seem like they could actually be a series of letters - so I think the conceit ultimately fails. The story is reminiscent of the mid-20th century American criminals who became celebrities. There is some excellent Irish-Australian slang, e.g. fizgig - a flirtatious girl, but also a police informer. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
Most of the events of the 1800s involving Ned Kelly & his gang described are true, but the author says he tried to add the texture, the possible why’s for what Ned Kelly did. It’s a tremendous success. The Irish were treated so poorly by the English in Australia, with no legal rights & often abused by the wealthy elite, continuing to punish this convict class—descendants of those delivered here for their punishment—for the sins of their ancestors. The author portrays Kelly as a Robin Hood, beloved and protected by the abused masses against an intolerable ruling class. Told from Kelly’s “diaries” written to his unknown daughter, Kelly uses the word “adjectival” for the f-word, and I’ll probably think of that word often in the narrator’s Australian accent for a long time. I can see why it won the Booker. An excellent book. ( )
  KarenMonsen | Jun 5, 2023 |
Historical fiction about the life of notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly (1854-1880). When I first picked it up, I thought it was non-fiction (just reading the title); however, I quickly realized it is a fictitious memoir, with Ned Kelly writing his life story to his infant daughter. Ned Kelly was the eldest son of Ellen and John “Red” Kelly, an Irish transported convict. His father died when he was young, so he and his mother developed a close relationship. He is apprenticed to bushranger Harry Power, where he learns the trade of an “honorable thief.” The storyline follows his increasing level of crime and his motivations.

Carey gets into the head of the protagonist, imagining the majority of the content and wrapping it around the main factual events in Kelly’s life. Since it is written in Ned’s voice, one may expect a sympathetic portrayal. Ned Kelly’s education ended at an early age, so Carey has captured his voice in stream of consciousness with limited punctuation and questionable grammar. After reading about a third of it in hard copy, I switched to audio, which was a good move. The audio is beautifully performed by Gianfranco Negroponte. I find I prefer to listen to dialect as opposed to reading the text.

This story is filled with adventure, conflict, and violence. Ned Kelly becomes a symbol for anti-authoritarianism and the embodiment of the underdog. It examines themes such as justice, colonialism, and class.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
He's an adjectival Kelly, innee? ( )
  mkfs | Aug 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Careyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hériz, Enrique deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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As he flees the police, Ned Kelly scribbles his narrative in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose. To his pursuers he is a thief and a murderer. To his own people he's a hero for opposing the English. Ned, who saw his first prison cell at 15, has become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over towns and defying authority. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist. There are no sentences like these in all Australian literature and yet they could only have grown from our soil.

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