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For the Term of His Natural Life Paperback – May 1 2005


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Paperback, May 1 2005
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Nonsuch Publishing (May 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184588082X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845880828
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 3.6 x 16.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,719,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Marcus Clarke (1846-1881), the author of For the Term of his Natural Life, was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1863, working on a sheep station before becoming a journalist and, later, an editor. He wrote plays, short stories and essays as well as novels, but it is For the Term of his Natural Life that is regarded as his masterpiece, and as one of the most important Australian novels of the nineteenth century.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa4800bd0) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4e2369c) out of 5 stars A dirge to suffereing humanity March 9 2009
By Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Marcus Clarke's masterpiece stands atop the great novels of Australian literature (the other being Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood). The novel is Victorian in its elocution and execution but it stands as a unique work of art alienated from the Dickens and Victor Hugo to which he is often assimilated by a brooding sense of intemperance for "what man has made of man". The novel traces the travails of Rufus Dawes as he is convicted and for a crime he did not commit. The story may seemingly be a novelization of the condition of the penal system in Australia during the late 19th century and it is often described as consisting of humanitarian and social concerns which are serialized without reserve or discretion. The aims of justice are thwarted and contorted to the point that it becomes compromising and compromised presence in the life of Rufus. The depictions of characters such as the cruel Lt. Maurice Frere, the tragically troubled Reverend North, a hoard of convicts with whom Rufus escapes and most importantly the Sylvia, the woman and passion of Rufus, she who will prove to be his hopeless vindication and the source of a sinuously artful and savage betrayal.
The plot is winding and however it sports coincidences that strain the verisimilitude of contemporary readership it never fails to engross and entertain, enlighten and provoke.
In essence a group of convicts escapes from the Port Arthur penitentiary. Getting lost in the wilderness, lacking survival skills and soon running out of food supplies, the men begin to starve and end up cannibalizing each other. It does not get any more brutal than that if it were not for the underlining love story that dramatizes the very pulse of the passion for justice intimated by the narrator.
Clarke's style may at times become but a grotesque imitation of Dickens, while at others it is transported by a the pellucid writing that sublimates the atmosphere of the outback wilderness and the disgraceful penal institution he indicts with an alien melancholy that engulfed in a slough of spiritual disorientation.
The love story is indefinable and best described as tragic, humane and gripping. The ultimate mark of its ascension found in Sylvia's death due to shipwreck.
Some reviewers have commented that it speaks about the Australian mind set, but it should be kept in mind that Marcus Clarke was a transplant and of British origin, of aristocratic birth, and a schoolfellow of Gerald Hopkins at Highgate Grammar School where he was described by the Christian poet as a "kaleidoscopic, parti-coloured, harlequinesque, thaumatropic" - (a thaumatrope was a kind of complementary holographic toy popular during Victorian times).Marcus Clarke arrived in Melbourne only at the age of 16. The narrative is a story that engages on all levels and it is its cynical affectation of indifference to human values that absolves the broodingly pathetic morbidity that on occasions overwhelms.
The picaresque overload of the narrative is infectious and its churlish adaptation of the phantasmagoria of the wild never idyllic and compellingly savage. The sentimental excursions into pathos, as in the story of Pretty Dick, a young boy who lost dies in the Bush, and Poor Joe, the dumb cripple who dies in a flood to save a girl and her lover. These are passionate and generous descriptions of a sensitive soul that has seen nature through its most unsparing cruelty, be it social or primordial.
The most outstanding element of the novel however is found in its forgiving sentiment. As with his favorite Shakespearean quote, "through faults great men are born", we realize that wrongdoings and the severity of circumstances are but the chance to venture into the farthest reaches of the human soul, when all is lost and all is found...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4375084) out of 5 stars A dirge to suffereing humanity March 9 2009
By Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Marcus Clarke's masterpiece stands atop the great novels of Australian literature (the other being Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood). The novel is Victorian in its elocution and execution but it stands as a unique work of art alienated from the Dickens and Victor Hugo to which he is often assimilated, given its brooding sense of intemperance for "what man has made of man". The novel traces the travails of Rufus Dawes as he is convicted and for a crime he did not commit. The story may seemingly be a novelization of the condition of the penal system in Australia during the late 19th century and it is often described as consisting of humanitarian and social concerns which are serialized without reserve or discretion. The aims of justice are thwarted and contorted to the point that it becomes compromising and compromised presence in the life of Rufus. The depictions of characters such as the cruel Lt. Maurice Frere, the tragically troubled Reverend North, a hoard of convicts with whom Rufus escapes and most importantly the Sylvia, the woman and passion of Rufus, she who will prove to be his hopeless vindication and the source of a sinuously artful and savage betrayal.
The plot is winding and however it sports coincidences that strain the verisimilitude of contemporary readership it never fails to engross and entertain, enlighten and provoke.
In essence a group of convicts escapes from the Port Arthur penitentiary. Getting lost in the wilderness, lacking survival skills and soon running out of food supplies, the men begin to starve and end up cannibalizing each other. It does not get any more brutal than that if it were not for the underlining love story that dramatizes the very pulse of the passion for justice intimated by the narrator.
Clarke's style may at times become but a grotesque imitation of Dickens, while at others it is transported by a the pellucid writing that sublimates the atmosphere of the outback wilderness and the disgraceful penal institution he indicts with an alien melancholy that engulfed in a slough of spiritual disorientation.
The love story is indefinable and best described as tragic, humane and gripping. The ultimate mark of its ascension found in Sylvia's death due to shipwreck.
Some reviewers have commented that it speaks about the Australian mind set, but it should be kept in mind that Marcus Clarke was a transplant and of British origin, of aristocratic birth, and a schoolfellow of Gerald Hopkins at Highgate Grammar School where he was described by the Christian poet as a "kaleidoscopic, parti-coloured, harlequinesque, thaumatropic" - (a thaumatrope was a kind of complementary holographic toy popular during Victorian times).Marcus Clarke arrived in Melbourne only at the age of 16. The narrative is a story that engages on all levels and it is its cynical affectation of indifference to human values that absolves the broodingly pathetic morbidity that on occasions overwhelms.
The picaresque overload of the narrative is infectious and its churlish adaptation of the phantasmagoria of the wild never idyllic and compellingly savage. The sentimental excursions into pathos, as in the story of Pretty Dick, a young boy who lost dies in the Bush, and Poor Joe, the dumb cripple who dies in a flood to save a girl and her lover. These are passionate and generous descriptions of a sensitive soul that has seen nature through its most unsparing cruelty, be it social or primordial.
The most outstanding element of the novel however is found in its forgiving sentiment. As with his favorite Shakespearean quote, "through faults great men are born", we realize that wrongdoings and the severity of circumstances are but the chance to venture into the farthest reaches of the human soul, when all is lost and all is found...
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa38979ec) out of 5 stars An insight into Ausralia's early penal system Aug. 15 2001
By Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Clark's writings in this book give you an insight into penal life in Australia's early history. His writing style gives you an empathy with the characters,and his descriptons of the Port Arthur site make you feel as if you are there. Some time later I visited Port Arthur, and Clark's writings came back. When you have been there you realise how good the book is.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa390442c) out of 5 stars A truly inspirational book. Sept. 16 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am planning a trip to Tasmania and it was recommended that I read Clarke's epic tale. It is one of inspiration and great character and describes life, the conditions and environment in which those men and women suffered. I am particularly looking forward to visiting Sarah Island and Port Arthur so I can get a taste of what those people (both innocent and guilty) had to endure. Definately recommended reading for those planning a holiday to Tassie!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa38982dc) out of 5 stars eBook freezes Kindle June 23 2012
By sowhynot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Like a previous reviewer stated, this title will download but won't go past page 1. It freezes the device; you can't get back to the home screen or turn a page.


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