The Design of ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’


For the Term of His Natural Life has proved by the test of time to be one of the most popular Australian novels, but it has yet to be established that it is also one of the best. Although there is a tacit assumption that it is the greatest of our convict novels, the comparisons have been drawn with non-Australian writers in this genre: Reade, Hugo, Dostoevsky, while oddly there are few with Price Waning, and Ralph Rashleigh. H. M. Green devotes little space to it, though he concedes 'it will always hold a high place in Australian fiction'. But what kind of place? It seems that because of its content it has not been viewed objectively as a work of art; most of the best research has gone into its historical origins.

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Published 1 October 1974 in Volume 6 No. 4. Subjects: Critical reception, Drafts & revisions, Literary techniques, structures & modes, Marcus Clarke.

Cite as: Stewart, Annette. ‘The Design of ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 6, no. 4, 1974, doi: 10.20314/als.e59182c236.