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For the Term of His Natural Life

For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke

ISBN10: 020713250X
ISBN13: 978-0207132506
Author: Marcus Clarke
Book title: For the Term of His Natural Life
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd (December 31, 1975)
Language: English
Category: Contemporary
Size PDF: 1376 kb
Size ePub: 1327 kb
Size Fb2: 1231 kb
Rating: 4.9/5
Votes: 556
Pages: 445 pages

For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke


This is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. I don't want to give away the plot, but I will say that it's the story of a very unlucky man who is wrongly accused of a crime he has not committed and is deported to what is today Tasmania. Clarke wrote this book years after the deportation system had been abolished and perhaps what he is trying to say is: "That happened when the English were in charge, but now we are Australia and we don't do that." There is no hope in this book, even the clergy is unable to offer any comfort. Injustice, cruelty and abuse of power are the themes and death is the only way out. From a historical point of view, the story is very informational but it is at times really hard to believe that all that is described is true. In some chapters, the book looks like an adventure book, but in the end we are left with the impression that there is no redemption.

It really shows how badly the prisoners were treated going from England to Tasmania. The British of that time were very cruel to men who did petty crimes. The men who were hanged were the lucky ones, Far better to die than live in a prison work camp .

This book was very good at demonstrating the injustice and cruelty of the 19th Century, British penal system and the attitudes which propped it up. Following the fortunes, or rather misfortunes of the main character was at first interesting but became a bit monotonous,frustrating and depressing due to his dogged determination to follow one general course of action down a path of self destruction. The ending was somewhat trite and disappointing.

I found this story engrossing-it gave me an insight into how the convicts must have suffered in the early days in Tasmania-being deported for such minor offences-then slaving under horrendous conditions-& imprisonment in harsh surroundings. Would recommend this to anyone interested in Australia's early history , I have actually been to some of the places mentioned in the book and they look just as grim now as they would have been in the period about which the book was written.

This is both a very fascinating and a very frustrating book. Its principal protagonist is Rufus Dawes, a young Englishman from a wealthy family, who allows his pride to put him into the terrifying experience of becoming a prisoner condemned to transportation. Along the way he encounters other characters - each with his or her own reasons for being (sometimes literally) in the same boat.

What makes the book fascinating is the abundance of detail about a youthful Australia and the abuses of its terrible prison system. What makes the book frustrating is that Marcus Clarke has written in Rufus Dawes a lead character who is driven almost entirely by his pride, which has the effect of trapping him in situations from which common sense would allow him to escape or at least alleviate. This is probably intended to stand in for his fatal flaw, but it gets a little old, which is one of the two reasons I give it four stars instead of five. The second reason for the lowered rating is because Clarke is BIG on coincidences - huge overwhelmingly unlikely, mind-numbing coincidences. He doesn't use the coincidence device a lot, but when he does, the use is awe-inspiring.

The book was written in the 1870s by an expatriate Englishman who had become an Australian journalist whose job allowed him to research the infamous prison system in great depth. If this makes it sound like it would be dry, don't be deceived. It is a rip-roaring adventure that I highly recommend.

For English speakers who have graduated from high school after only the past 30 years, this book cannot be adequately read without a dictionary. The grammar, choice of words the mastery of English expression, not to mention the rivetting story line are incredible. For one who would want to understand the brutality of the penal settlements of Tasmania and Norfolk island, this book is a must read.

This is not a pleasant story, but it most certainly is compelling. I learned a lot about penal colonies too. The plot and the characters are great. The author explores human nature in a most realistic way. There is something that renders this book really unique. I suppose I really liked the values, such as honour and the force of human spirit, that are prominent in it. It is a thought provoking book, but that doen not get in the way of the plot and of the tragic crescendo that few authors manage to achieve.

I absolutely loved the book. But the softback I bought was almost unreadable. It was in a format which one couldn't read....the size was that of a school textbook and the font went completely across the page. I ended up buying a copy in Melbourne which was wonderful which was the "typical book" format. I loved the story. It was recommended to me by friends in Sydney, and after visiting Tasmania and Port Arthur, I think it was the most memorable book i read. I loved it.