Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang and the Kelly Legend in Australia: A Historiographic Metafictional Reading
Anjan Saikia is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Kamargaon College, Golaghat, Assam. He completed his M.Phil and is currently pursuing his Ph.D from the Department of English, Dibrugarh University.
Anjan Saikia is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Kamargaon College, Golaghat, Assam. He completed his M.Phil and is currently pursuing his Ph.D from the Department of English, Dibrugarh University.
Peter Carey is one of the most popular and significant names in contemporary Australian writing in English. Carey, one could argue, is Australia’s most widely recognized writer in English and the popularity and critical appreciations from reviewers have made him a literary heavyweight. Carey can, indeed, be claimed to be the legitimate heir to Patrick White’s standing in the world of Australian literature. The basic objective of the study is to examine the Kelly legend in Australia and scrutinize the presentation of the same in the form of a fiction titled True History of the Kelly Gang. The text may be meaningfully engaged with through the framework of historiographic metafiction as pronounced eminently by Linda Hutcheon. The article looks into the issues and complexities involved in the meeting of both history and fiction, and thus, it would delve deep into the exploration of the crucial aspects of authenticity/inauthencity, objectivity and the notion of absolute truth in history through the basic understanding of the chosen text for study.
Keywords: Peter Carey, Metafiction, History, Postmodernism.
The relationship of literature and history has been the subject of multiple scrutiny and interpretations at various stages of the evolution of human history especially from the 19th century onwards in a robust manner. In the 19th century, both history and literature were considered as the branches of the same tree of learning which sought to interpret experience for guiding and elevating man. In the modern era, a crucial reversal took place resulting in the separation of both history and literature and the consequent emergence of two distinct and formidable branches of learning. In the postmodern approaches of studying literature and history, this very separation of the discourses has been challenged heavily and thus has been focused more upon identifying what the these modes of writing share than on how they differ from each other.
The meeting of metafiction and historiography has unambiguously produced a new kind of experimental writing in postmodernism, and quite significantly, this fusion and the resultant emergence of the new kind of writing has brought into fore one of Postmodernism’s unresolved contradictions. Linda Hutcheon, the propagator of this theory of historiographic metafiction, has sought to redefine the relationship of history and literature in the postmodern era by challenging and problematizing the separability of the two discourses. In historiographic metafiction, the readers are usually poised in a double consciousness regarding the real historical events and its fictionality. The novel of sort is of quite importance considering the fact that it contests and redefines the assumptions of realist novel and narrative history by questioning both the absolute knowledge of the past and the ideological implications of historical representations irrespective of past and present.
Peter Carey is one of the most popular and significant names in contemporary Australian writing in English. Carey, one could argue, is Australia’s most widely recognized writer in English and the popularity and critical appreciations from reviewers have made him a literary heavyweight. Carey can, indeed, be claimed to be the legitimate heir to Patrick White’s standing in the world of Australian literature. Interestingly, Carey has bagged almost every major fiction award in Australia including the Miles Franklin award, three times – for Bliss in 1981, Oscar and Lucinda in 1989, and for Jack Maggs in 1998, and such major international prizes as the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Jack Maggs in 1998, and the Booker prize which he even won twice for Oscar and Lucinda in 1988 and True History of the Kelly Gang in 2001 respectively. Significantly, the two Booker prizes that Carey bagged have also greatly enhanced the reading public’s awareness of Australian literature in an extensive manner. In short, Carey has firmly settled in the canon of contemporary fiction in English, and today, he is one of the most widely commented-on living Australian authors.
The basic objective of the article is to study the Kelly legend in Australia and scrutinize the presentation of the same in the form of a fiction titled True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, using the tools of historiographic metafiction as pronounced eminently by Linda Hutcheon. The article looks into the issues and complexities involved in the meeting of both history and fiction, and thus, it would delve deep into the exploration of the crucial aspects of authenticity/inauthencity, objectivity and the notion of absolute truth in history through the basic understanding of the chosen text for study. In the paper, analytical method is applied to study the text True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey from the points of historiographic metafiction and postmodern approaches. In this context, the article takes into account the theoretical aspects on both history and literature especially of Linda Hutcheon in the postmodern era and then proceeds to penetrate the elements of historiographic metafiction meticulously in the context of the Kelly legend in Australia and the treatment of it in the novel. The secondary sources are comprised of the books including edited ones, the articles and the essays taken from diverse sources.
The debate around history evokes responses of many of the theoreticians and thinkers in the postmodern era including Nietzsche. In the book On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, Friedrich Nietzsche rejects vehemently the individuality and particularity of history and potentially argues for a critical theory that brings the past both to the bar of judgment and remorseless critical investigation and scrutiny. The explanation of the past, to Nietzsche, heavily or completely depends upon what is powerful in the present. Thus, history and historiography are discourses which are largely dependant on the textualization in the present. This comes near to the theoretical formulations of Michel Foucault’s New History which creates the version that history is not about the history of things; rather this is a discourse of terms, categories and techniques which make certain things the focus of a whole configuration of discussion and procedure at certain times. The name of Hayden White also comes into fore in this context since he appears to be another major voice who lays bare the ordering and sense giving principle of historiography. To him, the historians of today are not facing the question “what are the facts?”, rather they are facing the question and the challenge how the facts are to be described in order to sanction one mode of explaining the facts over the other.
The writings of Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra in the Postmodern era are marred with this skepticism and suspicion about the writing of history where they significantly question the conventions of narrative in history writing and the adaptability of the references, the inscription of subjectivity, objectivity, identity and textuality, and ideological implications. This skepticism dismantles either partly or fully the empiricism and the epistemologies of positivism, and eventually establishes it as a defining paradox of postmodern discourses. Both History and fiction are filled with notoriety in terms of content, representation, and textuality, and such notoriety and overlapping of both the genres has turned them into unresolving and problematic discourses. Historiographic metafiction foregrounds and undermines the authority and objectivity of historical sources and explanations by posing a stance towards the point that till its creation by the historian, the facts of history do not exist for any historian and therefore, the historians represent the past by making selections of whatever they intend. It, thus, foregrounds predominantly and obsessively the “very difference between events (which have no meaning in themselves) and facts (which are given meaning)” (Hutcheon, 122). While discussing historiographic metafiction, Linda Hutcheon writes in A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction:
Historiographic metafiction refutes the natural or common sense methods of distinguishing between historical fact and fiction. It refuses the view that only history has a truth claim, both by questioning the ground of that claim in historiography and by asserting that both history and fiction are discourses, human constructs, signifying systems, and both derive their major claim to truth from that identity. (93)
Both the genres are human constructs because they textualise the past only. The past, indeed, exists prior to its entextualisation into history or fiction. Thus, historiographic metafiction reinstalls history in direct opposition to absolute autonomy and neutrality.
Again Hutcheon says in A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction:
Historiographic metafiction self-consciously reminds us that, while events did occur in the real past, we name and constitute those events as historical facts, by selection and narrative positioning. And, even more basically, we only know of those past events through their discursive inscription, through their traces in the past. (97)
Hence, it asserts that in the conventional narratives, the storyteller can certainly silence, exclude and absent certain events and it is in this context the aspects of objectivity and absolute knowledge comes under the scanner. Similarly, the choices made while presenting historical events and references in fiction are also definitely marred with lies and fabrications.
In short, historiographic metafiction is highly obsessed with the aspects of the factiousness and mendaciousness of stories. Moreover, the intertextuality of both the genres has made it possible the fictive meeting of cultural and historical contexts at different levels and extents.
Peter `Carey is an Australian novelist in English who has made use of narratives, stories, characterization and themes to retell and recount certain events of the past centering round the land of down under. In the 1988 book, Liars: Australian New Novelists, Helen Daniel sees Carey as one of a number of Australian fiction writers to stump readers with the Cretan Liar paradox, which precludes adequate response to an admitted liar’s admission that he is, in fact or in truth, lying. In another context, Daniel significantly comments that in all the works of Carey, one can only find stories which are themselves fabricated and filled with appeals to dislodge the crucial aspects of authenticity/inauthenticity. Discussing about the stories circulated commonly regarding the land of Australia, Carolyn Bliss writes in the essay “Lies and Silences: Cultural Masterplots and Existential Authenticity in Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang”:
…Australia as the Lucky Country or the Workingman’s Paradise; Australia as a place ‘down under’ everybody else on the globe and so far away that its very remoteness exercises what Geoffrey Blainley, in his famous 1966 book by the same name, called a ‘tyranny of distance’ over its inhabitants; the imperative of mateship in a bush existence which somehow manages to be both superior to and infinitely more grueling than the city life which more than three –fourths of the country actually experiences; the hostile landscape; the Cultural Cringe of Australians unsure of the relative worth of their own cultural products when compared to those of their series of literal and cultural colonizers, the doomed heroism of the Diggers… (Bliss, 278)
Apart from the prevalence of all such stories, it is also an established fact that the Kelly Gang in Australia is a real historical phenomenon of the 19th century and it played a crucial role in shaping the future of the nation. This novel problematises the calling of this small band of literal and figurative brothers as a ‘gang’ and thus questions the very practice in history and also the constricting categories of judgment and evaluation. Questioning the very categorization of a four man group as a gang, Bliss pertinently writes in the essay “Lies and Silences: Cultural Masterplots and Existential Authenticity in Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang”:
In fact, the gang was made up of four young men-Kelly, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne, and Steve Hart-whose fabled exploits begin with the shooting of the trooper Fitzpatrick in 1878 (an incident in which at least two of the four were not even involved), and continue through the Stringybark Creek killings of three policemen in October of that year and the holdups of banks in December 1878 and February 1879. This last robbery was also the occasion for the composition of the famous “Jerilderie Letter”, which formed the Jamesian germ of the novel and in which Ned Kelly attempts a sort of vindication of what some saw as the gang’s murderous rampage. The end of the gang came in June 1880, in the ferocious firefight at Glenrowan with which Carey opens his novel, and the end came for Ned, who barely survived the shootout, by hanging on November 11 of that year. Purportedly, his last words on the gallows were “Such a life.” (Bliss, 290)
The story of the Kelly gang inspired and fascinated the Australians from the beginning not just because this is a story of outrage, but also because of the fact that it is a story of the end of bushranging era in Australia. With the passage of time, the story has been revivified in various forms and expanded its meaning beyond the outrage, and thus the story has started representing multiple areas of interests including its status as “the story of oppressed Irish convicts, emancipists, and currency lads cheated, harassed, robbed, and generally abused by the Anglo power structure ; the related story of small selectors hounded by the prosperous squattocracy; the story of the bravery and superb bushmanship conveyed in the colloquial simile “as game as Ned Kelly”; the story of unswerving mateship maintained in the face of overwhelming odds; and the story of the charming larrikin whose misdeeds are more mischief than malice” (290, Bliss). Thus, the Kelly legend in Australia has an epic dimension, and according to the estimate of Andreas Gaile, more than 1200 books have been written on Kelly and his part in the bushranging phenomenon besides the presence of popular ballads, poems, and stories, as well as the Sidney Nolan series of paintings and a spate of dramatic treatments in plays, films, and television programmes.
In the novel True History of the Kelly Gang, the protagonist Ned Kelly projects his own version of the self; and this self-conscious charge in the process makes it a postmodern novel having paradoxical meanings. While undertaking a daring task of reinventing the Kelly legend in the novel, Carey brings into fore through the mouth of Ned in the very first paragraph of the novel the context of authenticity/inauthenticity, and compels readers to enter into a problematic zone in finding out the truthfulness and the fakery in the story. Ned the protagonist speaks in the very first paragraph of the novel:
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. (7)
The words “lies” and “silences” in this paragraph force the readers to ponder over the predetermined patterns absorbed in history and the very possibilities of omitting and adding crucial facts and events in the Kelly legend and in the lives of the characters to suit the purpose in presenting it in a first person narrative. Such a deliberate assertion in the novel in the very beginning plunges readers into the world of truth, authenticity/inauthenticity in history and historiography. The growth and self-discovery of the characters in the novel especially Ned is built around choices and selections made out of the Ned Kelly legend in Australia.
Moreover, historiographic metafiction problematizes the verifiable facts of history and the veracity of fiction in their conventional modes of narration. While scrutinizing, it makes it clear that both history and fiction depend largely on conventions of narrative, language and ideology in order to present an account of what really happened. Discussing on the issues of verification of history and the veracity of fiction, Hutcheon writes in A Poetics of Postmodernism that “both history and fiction are cultural sign systems, ideological constructions whose ideology includes their appearance of being autonomous and self-contained” (112, Hutcheon). In other words, both these genres can be considered as “textual constructs, narratives which are both non-originiary in their reliance on past intertexts and unavoidably ideologically laden” (112, Hutcheon). Besides, as espoused by Hutcheon, “the protagonists of historical metafiction are types: they are the ex-centrics, the marzinalized, the peripheral figures of fictional history-the Coalhouse Walkers (in Ragtime), the Saleem Sinais (in Midnight Children), the Fevvers (in Nights at the Circus)” (114, Hutcheon).
The title of the novel itself is a problematic and questioning one since the title of the novel perturbs the readers with a double conundrum. Book like The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature contains no separate entry on the gang, and thus, just treats on Kelly. Now the question comes into one’s mind why the novel is drafted as the history of the gang and not of Ned Kellly himself, who in popular consciousness is so fully equivalent to the group. The answer might be that what Kelly wrote originally has gone editing many times and the text of today which is on the hands of the onlookers has no sense of self apart from the gang. He is Kelly because he is the leader of the group, and that‘s why, he is so much prominent in the group. Thus, the verisimilitude of history in this context ensures the readers entry into a problematic foray, and this is what a historiographic metafiction like Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang offers to the readers regarding history and fiction.
Historiographic metafiction problematizes and questions the historical knowledge and epistemology, and the extent of objectivity in both history writing and fiction by distinctly keeping the auto representation and historical contexts of fiction. Hence it has two fronts of detailing and looking into history and literature. On one hand, it investigates the paradoxes of fictive/ historical representation, the particular/the general and the past/present, and on the other hand, it simultaneously refuses to recuperate or dissolve either side of the dichotomy. This peculiar stance of historiographic metafiction makes it clear that it seeks to exploit both the genres and their modes of writing. Again, the epithet “true” in the title of the novel is itself contradictory and problematic. If the novel is based on a legend who is so much important and famous in the history and popular culture of Australia, then why is the necessity to the addition of words like “True History” in the title and the very mention of such negative words as “lies”, “hell” etc. in the beginning of the novel. This is definitely an area to be looked into which Carey employs deliberately to attract the attention of the readers towards the Kelly legend. The novel is a true history because through this true history, Ned searches his own identity amidst many versions, and ironically, his attempt to find the truth, the heart, the authenticity in his life and to preserve it as the only inheritance he can offer to his daughter proved as a futile one. The telling of the truth here is part of a salvation required for recognizing an authentic self.
Historiographic metafiction also explores “the issues surrounding the nature of identity and subjectivity; the question of reference and representation; the intertextual nature of the past; and the ideological implications of writing about history” (117, Hutcheon). It problematizes the entire notion of subjectivity and finds that the subject is not confident of his/her ability to know the past with any certainty. This questions the inscription of subjectivity into history in an extensive manner. Since both history and fiction share social, cultural and ideological contexts within the structured, coherent and teleological narratives, therefore historiographic metafiction questions the shared conventions of both and fiction and problematizes the nature of historical knowledge. This questioning makes the impression at certain point that history and literature have no definite existence in actuality and this was also once advocated strongly a theoretician named Jacques Ehrmann. It is in such contexts that some questions loom large: do the writers of both fiction and history create their own future, culture, socio-political stance and ideological implication upon their existence while writing the vents of the past? Do they re-live and re-write the buried objects of the past with this aim? These questions in literature and history need to be studied in a serious manner and this is what historic metafiction does at every level of understanding the texts based on events of the past.
The truth is seen in this novel through the eyes of Ned. But the point is that his version is immediately problematized, not only by the many departures from historical facts including the spectacular invention of his lover Mary Hearn and their daughter, but also by the series of narrative frames with which Carey surrounds and incarcerates Ned’s narrative. Besides, the opening of the novel recounts part of the battle at Glenrowan in which all the members of the gang except Kelly succumbed to death. This account in the opening is attributed to an “undated, unsigned, handwritten account in the collection of the (nonexistent) Melbourne Public Library (V. L. 10453) (4). The context such an “undated” and “unsigned” narrative brings the readers into a platform great perplexity regarding fakery, reliability and truthfulness of events portrayed on the pages of the novel and the consequent inconclusiveness and prejudices.
In another diversion in the novel from historical facts, readers are introduced to pedantic and strangely irrelevant notes of Thomas Curnow, who introduces each of the thirteen “parcels” of documents that constitute the body of the text. Curnow’s prefatory notes to the thirteen “parcels” concentrate largely on the physical state of these documents which are themselves torn, stained, hurriedly written and on papers often stolen and improvised. He presents all these as wholly genuine in content and unadulterated. This is itself questionable and the reliability of the presence of Curnow in accentuating the self-assertions of Ned in the novel problematizes the very facts in history and the presents of those in fictions. Besides, the mysterious presence of S. C. (Curnow’s son or grandson, perhaps) who pens the third person narrative of “The Siege at Glenrowan” that precedes the description of Ned’s hanging is also not convincing. S. C. once speaks about the undated and unsigned manuscript of the Kelly narrative in the novel:
The evidence provided by the manuscript suggests that in the years after the Siege of Glenrowan he continued to labour obsessively over the construction of the dead man’s sentences, and it was he who made those small grey pencil marks with which the original manuscript is decorated. (419)
All these signify that the story of Ned might have been substantially edited to an indeterminable degree even before its presentation and treatment by Carey in the novel.
The fictional presence of Ned’s daughter and the direct address of Ned to his daughter decipher that Ned perhaps hopes for an exoneration of him in the eyes of the daughter whom he has never seen in real life. This clear distortion from historical facts might be because of the fact that Ned perhaps wishes to write directly and boldly about his own character, and for Ned, that would be possible only if he addresses everything to his daughter in a more comfortable and less formal way along with the warmth of a filial relationship. In short, by addressing the narrative to his daughter who is wholly fictional, Ned is meant to convey and locate the meaning of his life and identity that he fervently seeks throughout the novel. The novel carries lot more such instances of distortions, modifications and editing of historical facts at a greater level. The manuscripts on Ned Kelly are edited and amended by the character in the novel Ned himself while some others are privately edited by Mary Hearn to reflect her version of events. A further deferral of authority comes in Parcel 8, which is introduced with a note from Curnow claiming that “pages describing the shooting of Constable Fitzpatrick are much revised by a second hand reliably presumed to be that of Joe Byrne” (230). Since all the parcels were handed over to Curnow before his death, it is really hard to imagining how that rewriting could have happened. This evokes a question on the authenticity of the documents and thus place readers in a realm of great perplexity.
All these editings, revisions and omissions suggest that there is no such thing as uninflected historical accuracy as advocated and investigated by historiographic metafiction. Since different characters including Mary, to whom Ned must be a knight errant, Curnow to whom Ned is a dastardly villain, for some of the reporters to whom Ned is a savage beast who must be brought to bay, for many of his compatriots to whom he is a kind of hounded Robin Hood and so on present various versions of Ned in the novel, therefore it is no wonder here that the “true” Ned Kelly must have struggled to emerge out of the rubble. The novel also carries instances of persistent refrains of unfairness which is reflected on Ned’s statement regarding his mother’s imprisonment and its link to other historical injustices:
And here is the thing about them they was Australians they knew full well the terror of the unyielding law the historic memory of UNFAIRNESS were in their blood and a man might be a bank clerk or an overseer he might never have been lagged for nothing but still he knew in his heart what it were to be forced to wear the white hood in prison he knew what it were to be lashed for looking a warder in the eye and (…) the knowledge of unfairness were deep in his bone and marrow. (360)
The passage simply makes it clear that the knowledge of experience of injustices is imagined as almost genetically transmitted of the afflicted. However, Ned in the novel immediately adds that “I seen proof that if a man could tell his true history to Australians he might be believed” (360).
All such statements in the mouth of Ned in the novel problematize and question the very authenticity and fairness of history and thus towards all aspects including the narratives. It may be said here that Carey might have been aware of the various versions of the Kelly legend, and therefore, in writing the story of Ned, Carey wishes to create the necessary awareness among the readers that he is, indeed, writing the true one, and ironically, this very claim and impression is itself paradoxical, contentious and inconclusive. Thus Ned keeps his faith intact throughout the novel in the power of his own narrative in the attempt to portrait truly the unfairness, injustices, his actions, history and identity as well. In other words, it means Ned’s endorsement in his belief in the potency of narrative.
In all these stories and statements, Ned is engaged in a process of making the sense of himself and of his life. Such an engagement of Ned in establishing his identity and justifying his actions through the first person narrative brings into forth the core issues of reliability, acceptability, fakery, authenticity and truthfulness of actions. Again, the addition of two other narrative frames, one coming very early in the text and the other near its close puts readers into a difficult zone for demarcating inauthenticity from the real story. They are the stories of “A Certain Man” who turns to be Ned’s father and of a tortured horse, a narrative which both glosses and deconstructs Ned’s father’s practice of sometimes wearing a women’s dress.
In the first story, Ned learns that his father was transported to Van Diemen’s land as part of a plea bargain which saved him from the gallows. The bnbame of Ned’s father was engrossed in controversies such as the murdering of a landlord, slaughtering his wife and children and so on. Ned rightly reads the episode as a shameful one, but interestingly Ned gives a different colour to it, and in opposition to the stories listened by the listeners, Ned relives it and projects him as the adult voice for the poor and the oppressed. The other story is told by Mary Hearn, in part of a way of clearing up a mystery on the question why the grown men viz. Sons of Sieve (Ned’s father and later be Steve Hart and Ned’s brother Dan) sometimes ride around the country side dressed as women. There are different versions of the same telling in which some term those as acts of cowardice and self-serving while others call that as pointless terrorism and so on and so forth. In the essay, “Dead White Male Heroes: True History of the Kelly Gang and Ned Kelly in Australian Fictions”, Susan K. Martin writes in this context:
His sexuality has likewise been identified as ambiguous, most notably in an argument in the late 1960s conducted between the linguist Sidney J. Baker and the artist Norman Lindsay. Baker identified Kelly and his gang as homosexual because they wore perfume, sometimes dressed as women, danced with men, and embraced. Lindsay disputed this, arguing that his own father used perfume, and men danced with each other in those days because sometimes were sometimes “not to be had” (303).
Discussing on the ambiguity regarding the sexuality of the father of Ned and his wearing of women’s dresses, another critic Ian Jones identifies him as a “sodomite”.
The novel is filled with lots of other instances where Ned himself is suspicious of their veracity and one such story is the telling of Harry Power, the bushranger, to young Ned, regarding the meeting the Devil on the Melbourne road. Again, Ned’s defiant declaration to his gang is important in which he says that “we would write our damned history from here on” (245). His repeated assertion of the same invites readers’ attention and points that Ned is highly self-conscious and wishes the true representation of everything as the title suggests unlike the other representations in which narratives, as suggested by Ned symbolically on various occasions, often belie and misrepresent. Moreover, the novel makes many departures from historical narratives which Carey allows deliberately and most spectacularly. The invention of his lover Mary Hearn and their daughter and many other such narratives within the ambit of the novel have poised the novel in a very problematic domain for the readers.
Carey deliberately makes use of less or no punctuation marks and grammatical errors in the utterances of different characters including the protagonist Ned. Those are strategies to tell the tale from the mouths of real like characters. Such an attempt raises the pertinent question viz. did the other versions of the Kelly legend, prior t Carey, could not satiate the readers’ minds and just remain epitomes of story-telling without much reality and authenticity to believe? Interestingly, it is amidst this question the importance of Ned’s first person narrative comes to the light. Such intentional tactics in the narrative pattern bring the earlier representations of the Kelly legend into question. However, the distortions pointed above and the evidences of multiple editing of the Kelly story paradoxically question how much reliable and authentic this version of the true history of the Kelly legend in the form of fiction by Carey from the point of Australian cultural heritage and the land of terra nullius. The passages quoted above on various accounts to substantiate the arguments can themselves potentially reflect this deliberate, yet problematic tactic adopted by Carey to bring the true version of the Kelly legend in Australian for the readers. Hence, the questions of authenticity/inauthenticity, reliability, factiousness, fakery and misrepresentation remain unsolved and ambiguous, and interestingly, this is what historiographic metafiction potentially and strongly foregrounds and argues.
Incorporating the complex issues of both history and literature and investigating the same in a meticulous manner, historiographic metafiction, thus, looks into the effects of provisionality and indeterminacy in both history and fiction and subsequently opens up the possibility that the past events can be altered depending upon the changing reality and the world as evident from the reading of the novel True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. All these alterations might be the result of the context that history is more or less identical to fiction or vice versa. The close reading of the Kelly legend in Australia and the treatment of the same by Carey in the novel also makes it clear that the aspects of authenticity, truthfulness, fakery, historical references, and artistic originality in both history and literature have always remained problematic issues filled with indeterminacy and inconclusiveness. In fact, the rewriting and re-presenting the past in both fiction and history actually opens these to the present and prevents these from being conclusive and teleological as manifested from the historiographic metafictional reading of Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang.
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