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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 9: The World Novel in English to 1950$
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Ralph Crane, Jane Stafford, and Mark Williams

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609932

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199609932.001.0001

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Marcus Clarke

Marcus Clarke

(p.359) 21 Marcus Clarke
The Oxford History of the Novel in English

Andrew Mccann

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at Marcus Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life (1870–1872), which is considered as his enduring contribution to Australian literature and to a broader literature of empire. The peculiarly citational quality of the novel is barely intelligible without understanding the way in which Clarke came to situate himself in relationship to both colonial literary culture and to an emerging European canon. His acute sense of having to balance cultural legitimacy against commercial viability lends his work an unusual degree of self-consciousness in regard to the processes of commodification and the regimes of cultural capital that were having an enormous impact on the development of mid-nineteenth-century Melbourne, the city in which Clarke lived and worked. Ultimately, a novel like His Natural Life reflects the desire to reproduce the popular textual forms of the metropolis in the everyday experience of the colonies.

Keywords:   Marcus Clarke, Australian literature, colonial literary culture, cultural legitimacy, commodification, cultural capital

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