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The popularity of the British-born Australian poet and sportsman, Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833–1870), flowered after his death. Between 1870 and 1920, he was widely extolled as an exemplar of the Australian bushman and of British imperial masculinity alike. Fans lauded Gordon as a daredevil horseman who had lived in the bush in the Australian colonies’ roaring days. Fascinatingly, though, they expressed their enthusiasm for him in sentimental terms. This article shows that sentimental expressions of devotion to Gordon were part of a distinctive form of masculine sentimentality emerging in Western culture at the turn of the nineteenth century. The proponents of this sentimentality encouraged the members of Western imperial and settler-colonial publics to sympathise with rugged bushmen such as Gordon – to collectively experience their sorrows, griefs and joys. In so doing, they helped to reinforce masculine and settler-colonial power, since they elevated the sentiments of hardy masculine types at the expense of feminine ones. In Australia, sentimental representations of Gordon also helped divert attention from the violence committed by settlers against Aboriginal peoples. Based on the insight that masculinity and sentiment were profoundly intertwined in the day, this article calls for a new way of thinking about the relationship between these two phenomena in the turn-of-the-century era.

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Journal Article

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