'"I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false."
'In TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.' (From the publisher's website.)
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 11 (English Unit 2)
19th-century Australia, Australian identity, English–Irish tensions and conflict, folklore, heroes, lawlessness, loyalty, Oppression and victimisation, policing and the law, rebellion, villains, violence
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy
'Mo Yan and Peter Carey are internationally acclaimed writers who have written a number of historical novels. They share many similarities in their characterization and narrative skills as they subvert official narrative memories; however, they differ in their explorations of their respective national psyches. Mo Yan's Red Sorghum and Carey's True History of theKelly Gang represent memories of historical events and figures which depict their bandits, Yu Zhan'ao (Red Sorghum) and Ned Kelly (Kelly Gang), as heroes in dark and turbulent periods. This article suggests that these characters are a reflection of the cruel histories that Chinese and Australian peoples have experienced in fighting against their enemies. Through Mo Yan and Carey's literary representation of memories within the characters of Zhan'ao and Kelly, the aesthetic value of the fiction brings the histories to life.' (Publication abstract)
'Australian texts are rarely included in syllabi on North American College campuses. Perhaps the only Australian writer who is well known outside Australia is Patrick White, the only Australian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Unfortunately, the variety and depth of Australian literature remains a well-kept secret but it is certainly worth closer consideration, expecially when faculty members are choosing texts in liberal arts or "great books"-type programs. One Australian novel, worth considering for general education courses in world literature or composition is Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang (2000), which won the Booker Prize in 2001. Three reasons make this novel worth studying: First, Carey's focus on the bushranger, or outlaw, Ned Kelly, who is an iconic Australian figure, reveals key insights into Australian culture. Second, True History of the Kelly Gang deals with universal issues, which are relevant, challenging, and timely for today's students, and third, Carey's experimental approach to language use in this novel is so striking' and unusual that North American students would have difficulty finding anything comparable elsewhere.' (Introduction)