Ken Goodwin (auth.)'s A History of Australian Literature PDF

By Ken Goodwin (auth.)

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But in his self-laceration and confusion he allows Dawes to impersonate him and escape. The escape is, however, only into a fatal storm and shipwreck. His Natural Life has the same kind of absorbing miasmic gloom as Victor Hugo's Les Miserables (1862). The account of the romantic hero fated by the relentless cruelty and indifference ofa world in which 'there is no God', occasionally buoyed up by his own compassion or, more rarely, by the prospect oflove, is given rhythmic structure by the paralleling oflives and plots.

The clever scoundrels are all outside, and the moneyless mugs in gaol Men do twelve months for a mad wife's lies or Life for a strumpet's tale. Ifpeople knew what the warders know, and felt as the prisoners feelIf the people knew, they would storm their gaols as they stormed the old Bastille. Some of the rural poems have the same kind of bitterness 'Out Back', the ballad of a worn-out swagman's death, is an example - but others are full of the heroism of endurance or even the romance oflove and mateship.

In its 200,000-word book form, His Natural Life tells the story of Richard Devine, disinherited by his nominal father when he is found to be a bastard, wrongly accused and convicted of murdering his true father, and transported to Van Diemen's Land under the assumed name of Rufus Dawes. From then on his life as a convict is full of the malignancy of his fellow convicts, brutal and undeserved punishments, several escapes from custody, missed opportunities genuinely to escape, and THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS OF COLONIZATION 31 thwarted love for Sylvia Vickers, the daughter of a military officer.

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