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y separately published work icon Five Bells single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 2011... 2011 Five Bells
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'On a radiant day in Sydney, four adults converge on Circular Quay, site of the iconic Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Crowds of tourists mix with the locals, enjoying the glorious surroundings and the play of light on water.

'But each of the four carries a complicated history from elsewhere; each is haunted by past intimacies, secrets and guilt: Ellie is preoccupied by her sexual experiences as a girl, James by a tragedy for which he feels responsible, Catherine by the loss of her beloved brother in Dublin and Pei Xing by her imprisonment during China's Cultural Revolution.

'Told over the course of a single Saturday, Five Bells describes four lives which chime and resonate, sharing mysterious patterns and symbols. But it is a fifth person, a child, whose presence at the Quay haunts the day and who will overshadow everything that unfolds. By night-time, when Sydney is drenched in a rainstorm, each life has been transformed.' (From the publisher's website.)

Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 11 (English Unit 2)

Themes

death, forgive, grief, loss, memory, perspective, place, the search for connection, time, trauma

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Intercultural understanding, Literacy

Cross-curriculum Priorities

Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia

Notes

  • Epigraph:

    Memory believes before knowing remembers - William Falkner, Light in August

    Where have you gone? The tide is over you,

    The turn of midnight water's over you,

    As Time is over you, and mystery,

    And memory, the flood that does not flow.

    -Kenneth Slessor, 'Five Bells'

  • 'The first debt of this project is to Kenneth Slessor's elegiac poem, Five Bells (1939), which returned to me, like a remembered song, one midnight on a ferry in the centre of Circular Quay'. (Author's acknowledgements: p.217)
  • Other formats: Also sound recording.

Affiliation Notes

  • Associated with the AustLit subset Australian Literary Responses to 'Asia' as the work contains a Chinese character.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • North Sydney, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Vintage Australia , 2011 .
      image of person or book cover 6869680283301105029.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 216p.
      Note/s:
      • Publication date: 1 February 2011.
      ISBN: 9781864710601 (pbk.)
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vintage ,
      2012 .
      image of person or book cover 6976665395164326246.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 217p.p.
      ISBN: 9780099548980, 0099548984
    • North Sydney, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Random House Australia , 2014 .
      image of person or book cover 7916863601712476294.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 1v.p.
      Note/s:
      • Imprint: RHA eBooks Adult

      ISBN: 9781742749884, 1742749887
Alternative title: Cinq carillons
Language: French
    • Paris,
      c
      France,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Mercure de France ,
      2012 .
      image of person or book cover 6829202510419529589.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 318p.
      ISBN: 9782715232112

Works about this Work

Paratactic Stammers : Temporality in the Novels of Gail Jones Saadi Nikro , 2016 single work essay
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 16 no. 1 2016;

'Norman Saadi Nikro’s essay, ‘Paractatic Stammers: Temporality in the Novels of Gail Jones,’ sets out to explore how Jones’ ‘sense of fascination and wonder with the technology and culture of modernism informs the phenomenology and tenor of her novelistic style, especially the characters that emerge through the wave lengths of this style.’ Addressing himself to Jones’ literary fiction published to date, Nikro seeks to ‘track the duration in her novels whereby memory, history and story are experienced by her characters as something like intersections, intervals nor spacings, taut and tense folds or pleats in which time is riven by “a strange accession to memory and speech,” as the character Perdita comes to learn in Jones’s Sorry (202).’ Drawing in part on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and on Gilles Deleuze’s ‘engagement with the work of Bergson,’ Nikro examines in Jones the ‘relational contiguity of parts whose variable movements and orientations to one another bring about a transfiguration of their subjective capacities (as in Perdita’s realisation of her stuttering as a relational dynamic).’ ‘Paractatic Stammers: Temporality in the Novels of Gail Jones,’ offers a rich and original reading of Jones’ fiction, both sympathetic and critically rigorous. Echoing Jones’ own views on modernity, Nikro traces in her novels a poetics of modernity that inflects both the writing and the thematics of the work. ‘Jones’s prose style,’ he suggests, ‘what she calls “a kind of prose poetics’” (Royo Grasa 1), calls attention to the gaps and intervals by which the temporality of narration is not only possible, but rendered a vacant site for the stammer of an interruptive image or voice encompassing an alternative engagement of time and its graphic imprints.’ Like Kirkpatrick, Nikro too highlights the forceful way in which an Australian author develops a distinct narrative voice, in the case of Jones one informed by a constant intertwining of local and global aesthetic and political sensibilities.' (Editor's introduction)

The Synchronous City : Aural Geographies in Gail Jones's Five Bells Ella Mudie , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: New Scholar , vol. 3 no. 2 2014;
'A key 'road ahead' in Australian literature resides in the prominence of spatial narratives that interrogate the manifold ways in which heterogeneous cultural identities and histories converge on common terrain. This essay considers Gail Jones's fifth novel Five Bells (2011) as an 'acoustical novel' in which embodied experiences of sound catalyse a spectral form of remembering that unsettles the boundaries of self and cultural identity. In particular, I identify three operative models of sound in the novel; sound as revenant, listening as vital to the appropriation and production of space, and aural modes of trauma recall, arguing that each develops the ongoing concerns of Jones's fiction in new ways. From registering synchronicities in traumatic events which permeate geographical borders in a globalised world to reinstating the body-in-space within a zone of potential encounters, the embodied response to sound emerges as pivotal to the 'spatial practice' of the novel concerned with the potential for imaginative labour to more actively implicate the subject within the spaces of everyday life. ' (Publication abstract)
No More Boomerang? 'Nigger's Leap' and 'Five Bells' Leigh Dale , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , 1 March vol. 37 no. 1 2013; (p. 48-61)
'This essay argues that Judith Wright's poem "Nigger's Leap" is a reply to Kenneth Slessor's "Five Bells", within the context of discussions about Slessor's and Wright's attitudes towards colonialism and colonial history. The essay also discusses Gail Jones' novel Five Bells and its engagement with Slessor's poem, arguing that metaphors of sound and musical repetition offer a useful way of understanding the structure of Jones' novel and the relationship between novel and poem.' (Author's abstract)
'Upon the Airy Ocean' : Australia, the Russian Pacific, and the Transnational Imaginary Nicholas Birns , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Scenes of Reading : Is Australian Literature a World Literature? 2013; (p. 73-85)

Nicholas Birns examines the transnational turns in Russian and Australian literature, with particular attention to the intersections of the two literatures.

Ringing Out : 'Five Bells' and Its Feedback Loops Bridie McCarthy , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Telling Stories : Australian Life and Literature 1935–2012 2013; (p. 44-50)
Hot off the Presses Geordie Williamson , 2010 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 4-5 December 2010; (p. 22-23)

— Review of Five Bells Gail Jones , 2011 single work novel ; The Best Australian Essays 2010 2010 anthology essay ; The Body in the Clouds Ashley Hay , 2010 single work novel ; The Philanthropist John Tesarsch , 2010 single work novel ; The Best Australian Poems 2010 2010 anthology poetry ; The Best Australian Stories 2010 2010 anthology short story extract ; The Rest on the Flight : Selected Poems Peter Porter , 2010 selected work poetry
Her Time Stella Clarke , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 29-30 January 2011; (p. 18-19)

— Review of Five Bells Gail Jones , 2011 single work novel
Taut but Expansive Tale Peter Pierce , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 29 January 2011; (p. 22)

— Review of Five Bells Gail Jones , 2011 single work novel
Peace Befalls Clamour as Strange Stories Ring True Peter Pierce , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 29 January 2011; (p. 21)

— Review of Five Bells Gail Jones , 2011 single work novel
Cover Notes Lucy Sussex , 2011 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 6 February 2011; (p. 21)

— Review of Five Bells Gail Jones , 2011 single work novel ; The Shelly Beach Writers' Group June Loves , 2011 single work novel
Undercover Susan Wyndham , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 23-24 October 2010; (p. 35)
A column canvassing current literary news including a report on a talk given by Gail Jones on her 2011 novel Five Bells. Susan Wyndham also notes the the published remarks of Man Booker judge Francis Wilson on the final voting for the 2010 prize winner.
A Pair of Ragged Claws Stephen Romei , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 22-23 January 2011; (p. 19)
A column canvassing current literary news. Discusses Five Bells by Gail Jones and the Faber Academy six month creative writing course to be conducted by Allen and Unwin in Sydney, commencing in March 2011.
Quay to It All Bron Sibree , 2011 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 29 January 2011; (p. 21)
The Ring of Time Catherine Keenan , 2011 single work biography
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 5 February 2011; (p. 28-20) The Sydney Morning Herald , 5-6 February 2011; (p. 30-31)
Sounds of the City David Gaunt (interviewer), 2010 single work interview
— Appears in: Bookseller + Publisher Magazine , Summer 2010-2011 vol. 90 no. 5 2010; (p. 43)
Last amended 17 Nov 2017 10:28:07
Settings:
  • Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales,
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