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y separately published work icon 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.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (HarperCollins ed.)

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon 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

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.

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 .
      image of person or book cover 8291637448411673976.jpg
      Image sourced from online
      Extent: 178p.
      ISBN: 0670211656
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1973 .
      image of person or book cover 6563982279911147404.jpg
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0140036202
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Collins , 1978 .
      image of person or book cover 6607839195506968191.jpg
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0006145086
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Fontana ,
      1978 .
      image of person or book cover 6189002534940064888.jpg
      Extent: 178p.
      Reprinted: 1984
      ISBN: 0006540937
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Penguin ,
      1983 .
      image of person or book cover 9202523430224449845.jpg
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0140069739
    • Kensington, Randwick area, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Times House , 1986 .
      image of person or book cover 8673598009786526293.jpg
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0858359847
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Flamingo , 1999 .
      image of person or book cover 5007759076481890019.jpg
      Extent: 178p.p.
      ISBN: 0732266823
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: HarperCollins Australia , 2001 .
      image of person or book cover 731615252040620195.jpg
      Extent: 178p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Part of A & R Classic Series
      ISBN: 0207197164
Alternative title: Balada o Jimmiem Blacksmithovi
Language: Slovak
    • Bratislava,
      c
      Slovakia,
      c
      Eastern Europe, Europe,
      :
      Tatran ,
      1976 .
      image of person or book cover 2252056388918136760.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 255p.

Other Formats

  • Braille.
  • Sound recording.
  • Large print.
  • Dyslexic edition.

Works about this Work

Writing Bennelong : The Cultural Impact of Early Australian Biofictions Catherine Padmore , Kelly Gardiner , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Journal of Commonwealth Literature , September vol. 55 no. 3 2020; (p. 433–448)

'In 1941 Ernestine Hill published My Love Must Wait, a biographical novel based on the life of navigator Matthew Flinders. In the same year, Eleanor Dark published The Timeless Land, imagining the arrival of European settlers in the Sydney region from the perspectives of multiple historical figures. In this article we examine how each author represents the important figure of Bennelong, a man of the Wangal people who was kidnapped by Governor Phillip and who later travelled to England with him. While both works can be criticized as essentialist, paternalist or racist, there are significant differences in the ways each author portrays him. We argue that Dark’s decision to narrate some of her novel from the point of view of Bennelong and other Indigenous people enabled different understandings of Australian history for both historians and fiction writers. Dark’s “imaginative leap”, as critic Tom Griffiths has termed it, catalysed a new way of thinking about the 1788 invasion and early decades of the colonization of Australia. The unfinished cultural work undertaken by these novels continues today, as demonstrated by subsequent Australian novels which revisit encounters between Indigenous inhabitants and European colonists, including Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972), Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (2008), and Rohan Wilson’s The Roving Party (2011). Like Dark, these authors situate parts of their novels within the consciousness of Indigenous figures from the historical record. We analyse the diverse challenges and possibilities presented by these literary heirs of Eleanor Dark.' (Publication abstract)

Other People's Stories : Reproducing History in 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' Zoë Wallin , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: Screen Education , no. 96 2020; (p. 124-128)

'Fred Schepisi's 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' (1978), an adaptation of Thomas Keneally's 1972 novel of the same name, is an incendiary film from the Australian New Wave that attempts to give voice to aspects of the nation's violent history. With its then-sizeable A$1.2 million budget, the film was a commercial failure despite playing at the Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim, and has continued to court controversy.'

Source: Abstract.

form y separately published work icon Interviews with 10 Australian Authors Tom Tilley (interviewer), Melbourne : ABC Splash , 2018 16600399 2018 website interview film/TV

'Meet ten of Australia's literary greats. Tom Tilley speaks with writers such as David Malouf, Nadia Wheatley and Michael Gow about their works, their inspirations and their lives as writers.'

Source: Introduction.

A Makarrata Declaration : A Declaration of Our Country Stan Grant , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: The Best Australian Essays 2017 2017; (p. 41-50)

'Salman Rushdie — the great Indian writer — once said of the importance of stories: 'Those that do not have the power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to re-tell it, re-think it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts.' ' (41)
 

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’'
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
[Review] The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith 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
[Review] The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith 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
[Review] The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith 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 Apr 2020 07:48:44
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