A History of Australian Literature by Ken Goodwin (auth.)

By Ken Goodwin (auth.)

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The novel proved to be very popular. Almost 45,000 copies were sold in the twenty-three years from 1875. In 1884 and 1885 Bendey produced further editions under the longer tide For the Term of his Natural Life. There were further stylistic changes and corrections of inconsistencies in the 1885 edition. Clarke's widow insisted that Bendey's Australian edition of 1885 should be sold at two shillings and six pence, compared with the standard price of six shillings for the one-volume English edition.

Flights of white cockatoos stream out, shrieking like evil souls. The sun suddenly sinks, and the mopokes burst out into horrible peals of semi-human laughter. The natives aver that, when night comes, from out the bottomless depth of some lagoon the Bunyip rises, and, in form like monstrous sea-calf, drags his loathsome length from out the ooze. From a corner of the silent forest rises a dismal chant, and around a fire dance natives painted like skeletons. All is fear-inspiring and gloomy. This is recognizably Clarke, recognizably Australia in some of its moods.

The stockrider reviews without self-pity the exploits in which he has been involved: droving, exploring, chasing dingoes (a detail also 28 A HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN LITERATURE found in 'The Dying Stockman'), wheeling 'the wild scrub cattle at the yard' (a detail that Paterson made a feature of ' The Man from Snowy River'), chasing bushrangers (a dying breed by the late 1860s), playing cards, drinking, working hard, and dying with few regrets. 'The Dying Stockman' has a sentimental end: the adjuration to 'Sometimes think of the stockman below'; Gordon is more consistent: At least it makes no difference to the dead man underground What the living men remember or forget.

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