University of Tasmania
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Deconstructing and reconstructing the Martin Cash / James Lester Burke narrative manuscript of 1870

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posted on 2023-05-26, 05:42 authored by Emberg, DH
The 1870 Cash/Burke narrative/manuscript narrated by Irish bushranger, Martin Cash, and co-authored by fellow convict, James Lester Burke, was not published in its entirety in the twelve editions after the first edition of 1870. The words in the full narrative/manuscript total 151,104. Of these, 62,501 were omitted from all post-1870 editions. This removal of text resulted in the loss of large portions of a significant document from the convict era in New South Wales, Van Diemen's Land and Norfolk Island. The narrative is told from the point of view of an illiterate Irish convict. It is established that Cash's recall of his twenty-seven years in the British penal system and Burke's scribing and co-authoring produced a narrative/manuscript which adds fresh dimensions to the historiography of time and place and also buttresses already known data. The basic dilemma was to establish a methodology which both separated and rejoined the exclusions into the full manuscript and in the process examine the origins and meanings of the omissions. With the separation and rejoining of the text in mind, the thesis examines the Cash/Burke narrative/manuscript closely by extricating Cash's words and experiences from sometimes seemingly unconnected material inserted by Burke or others. By reinstating the missing material from the twelve editions of 1880-1981, a fuller understanding of a long-term convict's experience within the British penal system emerges. Also examined is the relationship the Cash/Burke work has with Marcus Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life. The result is the reconstruction of the Cash/Burke narrative/manuscript as a primary source from the years 1828-1855. This reconstructed information is in addition to material gained from official records, the opinions of contemporaries, newspaper reports and the mythology of bushranger Cash. Burke's role in the production may be referred to in a number of ways as 'editor', 'biographer', 'amanuensis', 'co-author' 'scribe' or 'author'. He was all of these. For the purpose of this thesis, the term 'co-author' will be the operative definition. The result is a new examination of an overlooked Australian colonial manuscript.


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Copyright 2011 the Author

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  • Open

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