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The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke selected work   poetry   humour  
  • Author:agent C. J. Dennis http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/dennis-c-j-clarence-james
Issue Details: First known date: 1915... 1915 The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Arguably the most popular book of poetry ever produced in Australia, The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke was first published in October 1915. Its success was immediate and unprecedented for a book of Australian verse. The first edition of 2,480 copies sold out within weeks, and by the end of February 1916 the book had reached a fifth impression and was still selling well. Tongue firmly in cheek, C. J. Dennis informed his publishers Angus and Robertson that the work's 'success [was] becoming monotonous'. There was more monotony to come, however: the book sold more than 100,000 copies in the first five years after its publication, and was rarely out of print in Dennis's lifetime. Added to this, there were film, stage, and musical versions of the work, as well as recitals given by popular entertainers. In many respects, 'The Sentimental Bloke' became a phenomenon of popular culture that took on a life of its own.

Dennis later claimed that the idea for 'The Sentimental Bloke' came from a 'racy' young man from Melbourne he had met in Toolangi. According to Dennis' wife Margaret Herron, the young man had fallen in love with a farmer's daughter, but the farmer disapproved and forbade her from having anything to do with him. The Melbourne man was said to have complained to Dennis, 'what sort of bloke do they think I am? Blimey, anyone would think I was a crook! Ain't a bloke got sisters of his own?' In Dennis's imagination, this frustrated love affair eventually became a story in which a tough, streetwise young larrikin gives up his dissolute ways for domestic happiness with his sweetheart. A crucial factor in the success of Dennis's 'Sentimental Bloke' verse was that it was narrated from the point of view of 'the Bloke', employing a slang idiom appropriate to the character. In his correspondence with his publishers, Dennis noted that 'the stuff, while not having any considerable literary merit, is, I believe, extremely popular'.

Exhibitions

6942291

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon The Sentimental Bloke Raymond Longford , Lottie Lyell , ( dir. Raymond Longford ) Adelaide : Southern Cross Feature Film Company , 1919 Z1046199 1919 single work film/TV humour (taught in 1 units)

Adapted by Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell from C. J. Dennis's collection of poems (The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke), the story concerns Bill ('the bloke'), a Sydney larrikin who vows to abandon his life of gambling and drinking when he falls in love with Doreen (who works in a pickle factory). His reformation comes about after he has been released from gaol, having been convicted of assaulting a policeman ('stoushing a John') during a raid on a two-up game.

form y separately published work icon The Sentimental Bloke C. J. Dennis , ( dir. F. W. Thring ) Melbourne : Efftee Film Productions , 1932 Z1046229 1932 single work film/TV humour

With a screenplay written by C. J. Dennis, based on his collection of verse published as The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, this cinematic adaptation similarly tells the story of Bill, a larrikin of the Little Lonsdale Street Push, who is introduced to a young woman called Doreen. Through the course of their courtship and eventual marriage, Bill transforms from a violence-prone gang member to a contented husband and father.

Although Dennis retains the basic storyline of the poems, he also adds a sub-plot in which Bill saves Doreen's Uncle Jim from an attempted swindle.

Notes

  • The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke had a fairly lengthy genesis, with the first two poems in the series appearing in The Bulletin as early as 1909. After the failure of his first book, Backblock Ballads, Dennis turned his attention to developing the 'Sentimental Bloke' series. A further eight 'Sentimental Bloke' poems appeared in the pages of The Bulletin between February 1914 and April 1915, unfolding in a sequence suggestive of a serial fiction. By early 1915, Dennis was seeking a publisher for a book version of his work. After being rejected by the Melbourne publishers Robertson and Mullens and Lothian Publishing, he submitted the work to Angus and Robertson in Sydney. Dennis's friend Henry Lawson claimed to have been the first to show Dennis's work to George Robertson, but Dennis made an approach of his own in a letter of 23 March 1915. Though Robertson was initially affronted by the demands Dennis made about the illustrations and 'get-up' of the book, the differences between author and publisher were soon smoothed over and an agreement was reached by mid April. In its original published form, The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke featured illustrations by Hal Gye, a preface by Henry Lawson, and a glossary of slang terms. It was dedicated to 'Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Roberts', Dennis's friends and patrons of the previous few years, and according to Dennis's wife, 'never was a dedication so richly deserved'. Just two of the work's fourteen poems had not previously appeared in the pages of The Bulletin.

    Dennis' romantic and distinctly Australian verse proved extremely popular during the Great War. Angus and Robertson sought to cater to homesick servicemen by producing this and subsequent Dennis works in a series of 'Pocket Editions for the Trenches'. The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke also sold well in New Zealand, and Dennis became known as the 'laureate of the ANZAC' as well as the 'laureate of the larrikin'. Its popularity outlasted the war however. Angus and Robertson continued to produce reprints of the work until 1940, and from the late 1950s the book was regularly revived, thanks in large part to the popularity of various stage adaptations of the work.

  • Lawrence Campbell, a Sydney-based teacher of elocution and public-speaking, bought the performance rights from C. J. Dennis in 1916. He presented recitations and impersonations of various characters on the variety stage in both Australia and New Zealand up until the mid-1920s.
  • A two-act ballet titled The Sentimental Bloke was produced in 1952, with choreography by Laurel Martyn and music by John Tallis (produced by the Victorian Ballet Guild). The ballet remained in the Victorian Ballet Guild's repertoire for many years and was filmed by ABC Television.

  • Theatrical adaptations include:

  • Further Reference:

    • McLaren, Ian F. C. J. Dennis, a Comprehensive Bibliography Based on the Collection of the Compiler. Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia, 1979.
    • McLaren, Ian F. C. J. Dennis: His Life and Work. Melbourne: Hall's Book Store, 1961.
    • Middlemiss, Perry. 'C. J. Dennis." Perry Middlemiss. Online (sighted 26/11/2010).

    .

  • The notes connected with this record have been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian music-film, theatre, and television being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.

Contents

* Contents derived from the Sydney, New South Wales,:Angus and Robertson , 1915 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Spring Song of a Blokei"The world 'as got me snouted jist a treat;", C. J. Dennis , 1913 single work poetry humour A Spring Song (p. 13-16)
The Introi"'Er name's Doreen...Well, spare me bloomin' days!", C. J. Dennis , 1911 single work poetry humour (p. 19-23)
The Stoush O' Dayi"Ar, these is 'appy days! An 'ow they've flown-", C. J. Dennis , 1909 single work poetry humour (p. 27-30)
Doreeni""I wish't yeh meant it, Bill." O'ow me 'eart went out to 'er that ev'nin' on the beach.", C. J. Dennis , 1909 single work poetry (p. 33-35)
The Sentimental Bloke : The Playi""Wot's in a name?" she sez....And then she sighs,", C. J. Dennis , 1914 single work poetry humour The Play (p. 39-43)
The Sentimental Bloke : The Stror 'at Cooti"Ar, wimmin! Wot a blinded fool I've been!", C. J. Dennis , 1914 single work poetry The Stror 'at Coot (p. 47-52)
The Sentimental Bloke and the Sireni"She sung a song; an' I sat silent there", C. J. Dennis , 1914 single work poetry The Siren (p. 55-59)
Mari""Er pore dear Par," she sez, "'e kept a store;"", C. J. Dennis , 1914 single work poetry humour (p. 63-68)
The Sentimental Bloke and the Pilot Covei""Young friend," 'e ses .... Young Friend! Well, spare me days!", C. J. Dennis , 1914 single work poetry Pilot Cove (p. 71-74)
The Hitching of the Sentimental Blokei""An'- wilt- yeh- take- this- woman- fer- to- be-", C. J. Dennis , 1915 single work poetry humour Hitched (p. 77-82)
Beef Teai"She never magged; she never said no word ;", C. J. Dennis , 1915 single work poetry humour The Lapse of the Sentimental Bloke (p. 85-89)
Uncle Jimi""I got no time for Wasters, lad" sez 'e", C. J. Dennis , 1915 single work poetry humour (p. 93-98)
The Sentimental Bloke Becomes a Fatheri"My son!....Them words, jist like a blessed song,", C. J. Dennis , 1915 single work poetry humour The Kid (p. 101-107)
The Mooch o' Lifei"This ev'nin' I was sittin' wiv Doreen,", C. J. Dennis , 1915 single work poetry humour (p. 111-114)
* Contents derived from the Melbourne, Victoria,:Text Publishing , 2012 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction, Jack Thompson , 2012 single work essay

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1915 .
      Link: 8491380Full text document AustLit Full Text
      Extent: 126p.
      Description: illus. (some col.)
      Reprinted: 1917 , 1918 , 1919 , 1920 , 1923 , 1936 , 1938 , 1940 , 1977 Facs. ed.
      Note/s:
      • Cover design and decorations by Hal Gye ; foreword by Henry Lawson.
      • Includes glossary, pp. 117-126.
      • Digitised by AustLit in cooperation with SETIS, 2003.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1916 .
      Extent: 159, [2] leaves of platesp.
      Description: illus. (some col.)
      Note/s:
      • Cover design and decorations by Hal Gye ; foreword by Henry Lawson.
      • Includes glossary.
      Series: y separately published work icon Pocket Editions for the Trenches Angus and Robertson (publisher), 1916-1918 Z1309361 1916 series - publisher

      Published by Angus and Robertson in during the First World War, these small-format editions (14.5cm X 11.5cm.) were designed to fit the tunic pockets of the Anzacs. Each volume was published with a full colour dustjacket, frontispiece and title page vignette. 'Into their presentation was poured much love and care and, despite the necessary wartime frugality which generally restricted the use of all but monotone printing, the work of three outstanding illustrators was commissioned to be reproduced in full colour. Most of those illustrated editions left the country never to return and so copies are ... rare... It is interesting to speculate the effect these illustrations may have had on the troops - Norman Lindsay's dusty droving and homestead scenes, Lionel Lindsay's magnificent wild brumbies and his grandfatherly Saltbush surrounded by "little rouseabouts", Hal Gye's soldiers from an earlier conflict, ramrod straight on sentry duty or in the saddle' (Publishers note, Collected Verse of A. B. Paterson,1982, p.vii-viii).

      In 2018, HarperCollins republished the series (under the imprint Angus and Robertson) to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Press of the Woolly Whale ,
      1932 .
      Extent: [4], 91, [9] pagesp.
      Note/s:
      • In his two-page Colophon, the printer discusses his dislike of "limited editions" and will say only that this book is limited to the number of copies needed.Estimates of this number range between 25 and 160.
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Selwyn and Blount ,
      1936 .
      Extent: 159p., ill.p.
      Note/s:
      • 'Illustrated by Thompson'.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1957 .
      Extent: 128p.p.
      Edition info: 'The Second Edition'.
      Reprinted: 1961 , 1967 , 1975 , 1980
      Note/s:
      • "... reprinted in the same size and style as the first edition of 1915"
      ISBN: 0207942048
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1981 .
      Extent: 130 p., 7 leaves of col. platesp.
      Edition info: Deluxe edition
      Description: illus.
      ISBN: 0207143668
    • Bondi Junction, Bondi area, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: ETT Imprint , 1999 .
      Extent: 130p.p.
      ISBN: 1875892354
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2012 .
      image of person or book cover 2977167135303580949.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 128p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 21 November 2012

      ISBN: 9781922079831
      Series: y separately published work icon Text Classics Text Publishing (publisher), Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012- Z1851461 2012 series - publisher novel 'Great books by great Australian storytellers.' (Text website.)
    • Sydney South, South Sydney area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 2018 .
      image of person or book cover 3665720959296630466.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 148p.p.
      Edition info: Facsimile of 1916 ed.
      Note/s:
      • Published 29 March 2018.

      ISBN: 9781460756027, 1460756029
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon The Complete Sentimental Bloke Neil James (editor), C. J. Dennis , Pymble : Angus and Robertson , 2001 Z1378117 2001 selected work poetry Brings together all C. J. Dennis' books using his 'Sentimental Bloke' characters. Pymble : Angus and Robertson , 2001

Works about this Work

Love Affair with a Sentimental Bloke Grantlee Kieza , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Sunday Mail , 1 May 2016; (p. 74)
Dreaming Verse : C.J. Dennis and the Anzac Tradition J.H. Crone , 2014 single work essay
— Appears in: Southerly , vol. 74 no. 3 2014; (p. 158-180)
'An Entertaining Young Genius' : C.J. Dennis and Adelaide Philip Butterss , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Adelaide : A Literary City 2014; (p. 77-93)
A Masculine Romance : The Sentimental Bloke and Australian Culture in the War-and Early Interwar Years Melissa Bellanta , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Popular Romance Studies , vol. 4 no. 2 2014;

'The Sentimental Bloke was a hugely popular multi-media phenomenon in Australia during the First World War and early interwar years. I explore the work as a heterosexual “masculine romance”: a love story expressing heterosexual romantic feeling from a masculine point of view and in a self-consciously masculine way. The Bloke phenomenon demonstrates that “ordinary” Australian men were more interested in certain forms of romantic popular culture than previously allowed. It also points to the fact that avowedly masculine constructions of romantic feeling were emerging in this period in response to criticism of elaborate Victorian-era expressions of romance on the one hand, and of commodified approaches to romantic love on the other. This point has implications for romance studies, which has paid little attention to the concept or even the possibility of masculine romance. In Australia, there was an insistent emphasis on plainness and straightforwardness as the hallmarks of a sturdily masculine approach to romance in the 1910s and 1920s. My hope is that this discussion will prompt other romance scholars to consider the particular inflexions given to masculine constructions of romance in other localities in the same period.'

Source: Abstract.

Larrikin Jive Talk Jack Thompson , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 5-6 January 2013; (p. 24)
'The Times' on The Sentimental Bloke 1937 single work review
— Appears in: All About Books , 12 February vol. 9 no. 2 1937; (p. 31)

— Review of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke C. J. Dennis , 1915 selected work poetry
Reprint of a review attributed to the Times on the release of the Selwyn and Blount imprint.
Other New Books 1936 single work review
— Appears in: Times Literary Supplement , 28 November no. 1817 1936; (p. 997)

— Review of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke C. J. Dennis , 1915 selected work poetry
Untitled 1915 single work review
— Appears in: The Queenslander , 6 November 1915; (p. 4)

— Review of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke C. J. Dennis , 1915 selected work poetry
Books of the Week Hamish Alcorn , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Mail , 16 September 2012; (p. 37)

— Review of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke C. J. Dennis , 1915 selected work poetry
Literary Gossip 1915 single work review
— Appears in: The Leader , 13 November 1915; (p. 26)

— Review of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke C. J. Dennis , 1915 selected work poetry
Memories of 'The Bloke' and His Creator L. G. Chandler , 1948 single work column
— Appears in: Margin , no. 13 1984; (p. 8-10)
'Your Vote Is Wanted' : C.J. Dennis at the Call Philip Butterss , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 7 no. 2007; (p. 97)
'C.J. Dennis's biographers have consistently understated or ignored his political verse, but none as pointedly as Geoffrey Hutton, whose C.J. Dennis, The Sentimental Bloke was published on behalf of the Victorian Liberal Government in 1976. This paper surveys Dennis's most intense period of political output during his employment on the Call, a Labor Party ha'penny daily. It outlines the background to his decision to travel to Sydney to work on this newspaper during the Federal election campaign of 1914. It surveys his contributions to the Call during the campaign, and it sets out his personal disintegration during this period.' (Author's abstract)
'Ar, if a bloke wus only understood!' C.J. Dennis and The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke Philip Butterss , 2005 single work biography
— Appears in: Living History: Essays on History as Biography 2005; (p. 113-126)
The Australian Larrikin: C. J. Dennis's [Un]sentimental Bloke Karenlee Thompson , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 21 no. 2 2007; (p. 177-183)
The author examines the nature of the Australian Larrikin, with its apparent inherent violence, against the background of the race riots which occurred in Cronulla, NSW in December 2005.
An Oddity from the Start : Convicts and National Character J. B. Hirst , 2008 single work essay
— Appears in: The Monthly , July no. 36 2008; (p. 36-42)
Last amended 11 Oct 2018 09:53:38
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