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y The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith single work   novel   historical fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 1972... 1972 The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'When Jimmie Blacksmith marries a white woman, the backlash from both Jimmie's tribe and white society initiates a series of dramatic events. As Jimmie tries to survive between two cultures, tensions reach a head when the Newbys, Jimmie's white employers, try to break up his marriage. The Newby women are murdered and Jimmie flees, pursued by police and vigilantes. The hunt intensifies as further murders are committed, and concludes with tragic results. Thomas Keneally's fictionalised account of the 1900 killing spree of half-Aboriginal Jimmy Governor is a powerful story of a black man's revenge against an unjust and intolerant society. ' (Publication summary)

Exhibitions

10628823
10626492

Adaptations

form y The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Fred Schepisi , ( dir. Fred Schepisi ) Melbourne : The Film House , 1978 Z864554 1978 single work film/TV (taught in 3 units)

Based on real events that occurred in Australia at the turn of the century and adapted from Thomas Keneally's novel, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith concerns a young man of Aboriginal and European heritage who has been raised by missionaries. A hard and reliable worker, Jimmie is employed on a property in central-western New South Wales. Hoping to achieve assimiliation into white society, Jimmy marries a white girl, but instead this only increases the loathing and ridicule directed at him. In the winter of 1900, an argument ensues between Jimmy and the owner of the property, which leads to Jimmie and his uncle horrifically killing most of the man's family. Jimmie subsequently takes to the bush with his wife, baby, and younger brother, Mort. Pursued by the police and vigilante farmers, Jimmie sends his wife back with a message: 'tell them I've declared war.' He and Mort kill again, but the younger brother becomes increasingly troubled by their actions. Jimmie eventually goes on alone until his inevitable capture and hanging.

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 11 (Literature Unit 1)

Themes

Aboriginality, Christianity, colonialism, cultural identity, democracy, giving voice to the other, identity, inter-cultural conflict, social identity, violence

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social

Notes

  • Dedication: To the Memory of Peter Cady [died] January, 1971.
  • Adapted for the 1978 film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith directed by Fred Schepisi. Screenplay by Fred Schepisi.
  • Study guide available.
  • Other formats: Also braille, sound recording, large print.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Viking ,
      1972 .
      8291637448411673976.jpg
      Image sourced from online
      Extent: 178p.
      ISBN: 0670211656
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1973 .
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0140036202
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Ballantine Books ,
      1973 .
      Extent: 215p.
      ISBN: 0345235584
    • Sydney,: Collins , 1978 .
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0006145086
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Fontana ,
      1978 .
      Extent: 178p.
      Reprinted: 1984
      ISBN: 0006540937
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Penguin ,
      1983 .
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0140069739
    • Kensington, Randwick area, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Sydney,: Times House , 1986 .
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0858359847
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney,: Flamingo , 1999 .
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0732266823
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney,: HarperCollins , 2001 .
      Extent: 178p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Part of A & R Classic Series
      ISBN: 0207197164
    • South Sydney area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney,: HarperCollins , 2013 .
      Extent: 1 v.p.
      ISBN: 9781743099308 (ebook)
Alternative title: Balada o Jimmiem Blacksmithovi
Language: Slovak

Works about this Work

Thomas Keneally : 'Cultural Appropriation Is Dangerous' Naaman Zhou , 2017 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 8 June 2017;
'Speaking at Vivid Sydney debate, Australian novelist says artists can ‘enter other cultures as long as we don’t rip them off’'
A National (Diasporic?) Living Treasure : Thomas Keneally Paul Sharrad , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Le Simplegadi , November no. 14 2015; (p. 20-27)
Although Thomas Keneally is firmly located as a national figure, his international literary career and his novels’ inspection of colonial exile, Aboriginal alienation, and movements of people throughout history reflect aspects of diasporic experience, while pushing the term itself into wider meaning of the transnational.
An Interview with Thomas Keneally : The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and the Politics of Australian Aboriginality Bruce Harding (interviewer), 2015 single work interview
— Appears in: Journal of Postcolonial Writing , vol. 51 no. 3 2015; (p. 310-323)
'Thomas Keneally is one of Australia’s best-known novelists, with a reputation as a popular but serious writer both at home and abroad. In 1972, the publication of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, his fictional reconstruction of the axe murders of the half-caste aboriginal, Jimmy Governor, in 1900, a dark episode in the history of Australian–Aboriginal relations, brought him local fame. In this interview with Bruce Harding undertaken in New Zealand in 1984, Keneally, with the hindsight then of 12 years, reflects on the novel as a reassessment of social and political change, and considers race relations more generally, before turning to his early career, his break with Catholicism and his attitude towards Australia’s convict past. Harding’s opening and closing commentaries provide historical contexts for the novel’s story and its moment of publication, which coincided with the initial euphoria of the Whitlam years.' (Publication abstract)
26 Aussie Books You Must Read Blanche Clark , 2015 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 24 January 2015; (p. 18-19)
'With Australia Day upons us...26 great Australian Books that have helped shape and define our nation...'
Colonialism, Racial Violence and Loss : The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and The Roving Party Maureen Clark , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Literary Studies , 30 May vol. 30 no. 1 2015;

'Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) and Rohan Wilson’s The Roving Party (2011) resonate with the violence of the colonising process. The books relate, respectively, to murders that took place in New South Wales in 1901 just prior to Federation, and in Tasmania during the 1820s. Both novels employ elements of the Gothic mode to represent social disorder, and equate systematic racism with the mechanics of moral corruption in a hostile colonial environment. In their efforts to make sense of the past each, in its own way, has something to say about how opportunism and upward social mobility are linked to the possession of whiteness. Each taps into an historical frame of reference in which whiteness is understood, not simply as skin colour, but as something essential to the founding vision of Australia as a nation.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

New Novels John McLaren , 1972 single work review
— Appears in: Overland , Winter no. 52 1972; (p. 52-53)

— Review of The Wire Classroom John Bailey 1972 single work novel ; The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Thomas Keneally 1972 single work novel ; So Far No Further : a novel Judah Waten 1971 single work novel
Untitled W. A. Murray , 1972 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September vol. 11 no. 1972; (p. 8-9)

— Review of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Thomas Keneally 1972 single work novel
Ignorance and Savagery Barbara Jefferis , 1972 single work review
— Appears in: Hemisphere , October vol. 16 no. 10 1972; (p. 37)

— Review of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Thomas Keneally 1972 single work novel
Untitled 1972 single work review
— Appears in: The National Times , 17-22 April 1972; (p. 21)

— Review of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Thomas Keneally 1972 single work novel
Untitled Michael Costigan , 1972 single work review
— Appears in: Review , 8-14 April 1972; (p. 701)

— Review of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith Thomas Keneally 1972 single work novel
Thomas Keneally's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and the Palimpsest of Jimmy Governor Sue Ryan-Fazilleau , 2002 single work criticism
— Appears in: Commonwealth , vol. 25 no. 1 2002; (p. 27-39)
Author's abstract : In The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Keneally rewrites the story of the Jimmy Governor murders and manhunt, a significant episode in white/Aboriginal race relations in Australia that took place at the turn of the twentieth century. In his narrative Keneally attempts to eliminate the colonial discourse which underlay contemporary press accounts of the story and to retell it 'objectively', from the enlightened perspective of the 1970s, when white attitudes to Aborigines began to change radically. This article examines and attempts to explain his successes and failures in this under taking.
Caught Between Two Worlds Chris Elmore , 2003 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 2 April 2003; (p. 7)
The Borrowers Thomas Keneally , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age , 30 August 2003; (p. 8)
Keneally and Gare: Boundary Riders and Fringedwellers Kay Ferres , 1986 single work criticism
— Appears in: LiNQ , vol. 14 no. 2 1986; (p. 48-56)
When the Past Is Always Present Juliette Hughes , 2005 single work essay
— Appears in: The Age , 13 August 2005; (p. 8)
Last amended 23 May 2017 10:15:19
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