Rigby's Romance is a revised and expanded version of the original chapter five in the Such is Life typescript (1898).
The narrator, Tom Collins, is on his way from Echuca to Yooringa to fulfil a contract to clear a Riverina run of cattle. Hoping to meet his old friend, Jefferson Rigby, Collins is surprised by an encounter with Rigby's former sweetheart, Kate Vanderdecken, who has come to Australia in search of Rigby. Collins arranges an introduction before heading to the banks of the Murray River to fish for a thirty-pound cod he has heard is in the area. He is joined by the bullockies Steve Thompson and Robert Dixon, characters from Such is Life, and several others: a kangaroo-hunter named Smith; a trapper named Furlong; a farmer named Binney and his brother-in-law, the Methodist minister Harold Lushington; and, eventually, Rigby himself. Like The Buln-buln and the Brolga, Rigby's Romance involves a series of yarns told in different styles about politics, ethics, religion and law. All hinge in some way on failed love affairs, but, as is his way, Rigby's love story about a local German publican soon evolves into a long sermon on Christian socialism, and he forgets about the appointment he has made with Kate Vanderdecken.
Furphy expressed a preference for Rigby's Romance later in life. Like The Buln-buln and the Brolga, it can be read as an independent work. In revision, Furphy changed the narrative in significant ways, particularly in his expansion of Rigby's sermons on state socialism. In other cases, he probably transferred text from the original chapter two to fill in details at the beginning of the novel. And so, despite its independence as a work, Rigby's Romance retains many cross-references to the larger original work, most notably the presence of Tom Collins as an unreliable narrator.
'This essay examines the representation of dogs, especially Pup in the novels of Joseph Furphy.' (Author's abstract)