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The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Unabridged)
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The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Unabridged) [Audio Download]

by Thomas Keneally (Author), Bruce Kerr (Narrator)
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 19 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
  • Release Date: 30 Oct 2008
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002SPZ9RY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product Description

First title in the launch of Bolinda's Australian Classics series, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is an ongoing Australian literary classic, nominated for the Booker Prize and written by the multi-award-winning author, Thomas Keneally.

Jimmie Blacksmith is the son of an Aboriginal mother and a white father. A missionary shows him what it means to be white - already he is only too aware of what it means to be black. Exploited by his white employers and betrayed by his white wife, Jimmie cannot take any more. He must find a way to express his rage. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is based on an actual incident that occurred at the turn of the century. Set against the background of a turbulent Australian history, Thomas Keneally records with clarity the chant of one troubled man.

©1973 Thomas Keneally; (P)2007 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
One would hope a book written about race relations thirty years ago would be irrelevant and possibly dated today. Unfortunately, Keneally's stunning indictment of turn-of-the-century racism, in this case that of Anglo settlers towards Australia's native aborigines, remains vibrant and powerful, even after these many years. Literally timeless in its message and articulate and graceful in its execution, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith could have been written about many minorities subjugated during many periods in many different countries.
The basic story is not unique. Half aborigine and half Anglo, Jimmie Blacksmith grows up in aborigine culture. Because he is light-skinned, however, he is able to obtain jobs on white landholdings more readily than other aborigines, and there he is exposed to Anglo culture--with all its stated, good intentions, but its sometimes patronizing attitudes and selfish goals. After being worked hard and cheated from his earnings repeatedly, Jimmie snaps, visiting on his former employers the kind of "justice" which has so often been dealt to their employees. As vigilantes and police join forces to apprehend Jimmie, we see all the conflicting attitudes toward life and justice which undermine the creation of a unified, fair society.
The throbbing drumbeat of Jimmie's chants and Keneally's insistent narrative pace combine with our revulsion toward Jimmie's actions, to catch us up in the emotions of both the pursuers and the pursued. Our understanding of Jimmie and our empathy with him make us long for his redemption at the same time that we are anxious for justice to take place. Keneally's resolution is brilliant, fittingly combining the best elements of both of Jimmie's worlds. This is a wonderful novel which deals with a complex and sensitive subject without polemics or convenient, easy solutions, and it's as relevant today as it was when it was written. Mary Whipple
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aussie Classic 5 Jun 2011
By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is the 7th novel by Thomas Keneally. Set around the time of Federation, it tells the story of half-caste Jimmie Blacksmith, initiated into tribal manhood by his aboriginal elders, he was, at the same time, taught by a Methodist minister. Under the minister's influence, his criteria denoting the value of human existence were home, hearth, wife and land. And a white wife, say a farm girl, would mean his offspring would be quarter-caste, theirs but an eighth. Jimmie works hard to achieve his goals, but fails through no fault of his own, and the situation becomes explosive and violent. Keneally tells a great yarn, and manages to deftly convey the forces that battle inside Jimmie, as well as the attitude of whites to blacks and of blacks to whites at that time in Australian history. The story is told mainly from Jimmie's perspective, but also from the view of the Methodist minister, the hangman, Jimmie's maternal uncle Tabidgi and the fiancé of one of Jimmie's victims. The debate about Federation rumbles in the background. Excellent prose, vivid descriptions, characters of depth and authentic dialogue. It is no wonder this tragic tale has become an Australian classic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Story 17 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As I shall be visiting Australia soon, I was interested to read a novel about the historical treatment of the Aboriginal people. This novel certainly held my attention and I would recommend it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An historical statement 4 Jan 2012
The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally is based on the life of an Australian bushranger called Jimmy Governor. Fictionalised as Jimmy Blacksmith, the character takes several steps down the social ladder in terms of his name, but remains at the bottom of the pile in reality by virtue of being not only black, but also an Aborigine. As Jimmy Blacksmith, however, the character is not without skills. He speaks English and can build a uniform fence as strong and even as anyone. He can work as hard and deliver as much as any hired hand, except, of course, by definition.

Thomas Keneally's novel is highly successful in its presentation of white people's assumptions of superiority. Knowing that they occupy a level much higher up the Victorian pyramid of life that has God and The Queen at the top, they can be imperially confident that anything they might think or do must necessarily outshine what the likes of Jimmy Blacksmith can achieve. When reality suggests a contradiction, then their position of privilege allows them to change the rules in order to belittle achievement and deny results.

To label such attitudes as merely racist is to miss much of the point. These whites, always eager to proffer judgment at the turn of twentieth century Australia, did not regard their attitudes as based on race. The relevant word was surely not race, but species, since the indigenous population was seen as something less than human. So even when Jimmy Blacksmith displays complete competence, strength, endurance or cooperation, even if he becomes a Methodist Christian, marries a white woman according to God and The Law, even if he speaks the master's language, he remains by definition something short of human.
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