The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke
|Author||C. J. Dennis|
|Publisher||Angus & Robertson|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Pages||113, plus 14 pages of Glossary|
|Text||The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke at Wikisource|
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke is a verse novel by Australian novelist and poet C. J. Dennis. Portions of the work appeared in The Bulletin between 1909 and 1915, the year that Dennis completed the verse novel and had it published by Angus & Robertson. Written in the rough and comical Australian slang that was his signature style, the work became immensely popular in Australia, selling over 60,000 copies in nine editions within the first year of publication. Though its popularity peaked during World War I and the interwar period, it remains a classic of Australian literature and the best-selling book of poetry ever produced in the country.
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke tells the story of Bill, a member of a larrikin push (or gang) in Melbourne's Little Lon red-light district, who encounters Doreen, a young woman "of some social aspiration", in a local market. Narrated by Bill, the poems chronicle their courtship and marriage, detailing his transformation from a violence-prone gang member to a contented husband and father.
It has been adapted into many works across a variety of media, including Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell's The Sentimental Bloke (1918), widely regarded as Australia's greatest silent film. The novel was also a favourite in New Zealand, earning Dennis the title of "the Anzac laureate".
- A Spring Song — Bill is discontent but he doesn't know why. He attributes it to the season. He sees a girl whom he describes as his ideal partner.
- The Intro — Bill attempts to talk to the girl, Doreen, but she rebuffs him because he is a stranger. Bill finds out that she works in a pickle factory, and arranges for a man he knows who works there to introduce them. They talk, and later arrange a date.
- The Stoush O' Day — Bill reflects on how time has flown since he met Doreen.
- Doreen — Bill promises Doreen that he'll give up drinking.
- The Play — Bill takes Doreen to see Romeo and Juliet.
- The Stror 'at Coot — A man who wears a boater hat hangs around Doreen. Bill takes offence and fights him. Doreen breaks things off with Bill.
- The Siren — Bill goes to a party and Doreen is there. She sings a song about unrequited love which affects Bill. He follows her outside, and they make up.
- Mar — Bill meets Doreen's mother, who calls Bill "Willy", as her future son-in-law must be respectable. She and Bill begin talking about wedding plans, and Bill's job.
- Pilot Cove — Doreen and Bill go to see the priest to talk about the gravity of marriage.
- Hitched — Doreen and Bill's wedding ceremony. They set off on their honeymoon.
- Beef Tea — Ginger Mick encourages Bill to drink and gamble, and Doreen's feelings are hurt. Bill takes himself outside for a long time, and comes back in, feeling sick. He falls asleep and wakes up to Doreen feeding him beef tea - a staple of invalid cooking - and Bill is astonished that she has forgiven him.
- Uncle Jim
- The Kid
- The Mooch o' Life
The first portion of the novel, The Stoush O' Day, was originally published in The Bulletin on 1 April 1909. All bar two of the remaining chapters were also published in that magazine between 1909 and 1915.
The completed work was first published in book form in Sydney on 9 October 1915.
- Publication details
|First Edition||Sydney||9 October 1915||2,500 copies|
|Second impression||Sydney||2 November 1915||5,000 copies|
|Third impression||Sydney||6 December||5,000 copies|
|Fourth impression||Sydney||25 January 1916||5,000 copies|
|Fifth impression||Sydney||22 February 1916||7,000 copies|
|Sixth impression||Sydney||1 April 1916||5,500 copies|
|Seventh impression||Sydney||30 May 1916||11,000 copies|
|Eighth impression||Sydney||1 April 1916||5,000 copies|
|Pocket edition||Sydney||25 September 1916||10,000 copies|
|Tenth impression||Sydney||7 October 1916||8,000 copies|
|Eleventh impression||Sydney||24 October 1916||5,000 copies|
|Twelfth impression||Sydney||17 November 1916||5,000 copies|
|Thirteenth impression||Sydney||2 May 1917||5,000 copies|
|Fourteenth impression||London||1 July 1917||5,000 copies|
|Fifteenth impression||Sydney||1 August 1917||5,000 copies|
|Sixteenth impression||London||21 May 1918||5,000 copies|
|Seventeenth impression||Sydney||14 June 1919||3,000 copies|
|Eighteenth impression||Sydney||31 August 1919||3,000 copies|
|Nineteenth impression||Sydney||20 April 1920||3,000 copies|
|Twentieth impression||Sydney||31 August 1920||3,000 copies|
The book is dedicated "To Mr and Mrs J.G. Roberts". John Garibaldi Roberts was a book-loving public servant working with the Melbourne Tramways Company when he was introduced to C. J. Dennis by R. H. Croll in 1906. He was later to provide much material and emotional support to Dennis during the writing of this work. Dennis later took to calling them "Dad" and "Mum".
The novel's first edition includes a foreword by bush poet Henry Lawson, who writes that The Sentimental Bloke's original appearance in The Bulletin "brightened up many dark days for me", and that, in Bill, Dennis had created a character "more perfect than any alleged 'larrikin' or Bottle-O character I have ever attempted to sketch". The first edition also featured a glossary of words, compiled by Dennis, "for the use of those unacquainted with the 'Australian language'".
Dennis went on to publish three sequels to this novel: The Moods of Ginger Mick (1916), Doreen (1917) and Rose of Spadgers (1924).
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
Two film versions of The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke have been produced: The Sentimental Bloke, a silent version, in 1918, written and directed by Raymond Longford, and which starred Arthur Tauchert as Bill and Lottie Lyell as Doreen; and a "talkie" version in 1932, directed by F. W. Thring and based on a screenplay by C. J. Dennis.
The Sentimental Bloke is a 1963 Australian television film. It was a half-hour ballet aired on ABC.
A second musical theatre version was written by Graeme Blundell with music by George Dreyfus premiered by the Melbourne Theatre Company at the Playhouse, Victorian Arts Centre on 12 December 1985. This musical was subsequently produced in Perth (Western Australian Theatre Company 1986), Darwin (State Theatre Company of Northern Territory, 1987) and Brisbane (Royal Queensland Theatre Company, 1988).
- Bellanta, Melissa (2014). "A Masculine Romance: The Sentimental Bloke and Australian Culture in the War- and Early Interwar Years". Journal of Popular Romance Studies. 4 (2).
- taken from Twentieth Impression
- "Foreword to 1st edition". Middlemiss.org. 1915-09-01. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
- Ian F. McLaren, 'Gye, Harold Frederick Neville (Hal) (1888 - 1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, Copyright 2006, updated continuously, ISSN 1833-7538, published by Australian National University
- The Sentimental Bloke (1919) on IMDb
- The Sentimental Bloke (1932) on IMDb
- The Sentimental Bloke television adaptation (1976) on IMDb
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