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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang and Peter Corris's The Journal of Fletcher Christian are historical novels, which emerge from quite different Australian cultural fields (Literature and popular fiction), but reading them alongside each other reveals fundamental similarities in their politics of race, gender and sexuality. We argue that both novels use the symbolism of the male, colonizing body to grant legitimacy to their postcolonial settler audience. In both cases, this legitimacy takes the form of a fragment of 'true and secret' history which oppposes authorized accounts of famous historical lives and events (Australia's most famous bushranger, the British Empire's most famous mutineer). We focus, in particular, on the extent to which both novels imagine the voices of Kelly and Christian by exploiting the richly metaphorical relationship between the body as flesh and the body as text. [Authors' abstract, p. 189]


  • Subject concept 'Ventriloquism' has been assigned because of the authors' repeated use of the term with regard to the creation of voice in the novels. E.g. 'Both novelists emerge as the natural ventriloquists for their protagonists' (p. 192); and 'this passage underlines the impossibility of True History's own act of historical ventriloquism - its attempt to produce a speaking corpse' (p. 199).

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Last amended 25 Jun 2010