His Natural Life has retained Australian classic status for over one hundred years. Scarcely ever out of print since first written during the early 1870s, it has provided successive generations with a vivid account of a brutal phase of colonial life. The main focus of this great convict novel is the complex interaction between those in power and those who suffer, made meaningful because of its hero's struggle against the destructiveness of his wrongful imprisonment. While much of the story is necessarily grim, Marcus Clarke has used elements of romance, incidents of family life and passages of scenic description to both relieve and give emphasis to the tragedy that forms its heart.
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