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

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By Ken Goodwin (auth.)

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The ending is bitter and violent. Squeaker's mate draws the new woman to her like a tigress holding her prey; Squeaker returns and beats off the 44 A HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN LITERATURE relentless tightening arms with a pole; then the dog savages Squeaker. Here is rage externally suppressed and then breaking out in a more positive and frightening way than anything in Lawson. It is, moreover, vengeance approved of by the author, not the fierce predatoriness of a peripheral marauder. A similarly intense and outraged tone is found in the convict stories of 'Price Warung' (William Astley, 1855-1911).

She rejected two proposals of marriage, but brought up three separate families of orphans by herself. Her novels are influenced in tone and substance by Jane Austen (whose works she read through every year), Scott, George Eliot (whom she met), Harriet Martineau and the Brownings. Most of her novels are set in both England and Australia and deal with the problems of the female immigrant. She has thus the THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS OF COLONIZATION 21 distinction of being the first woman novelist to write about Australia and the first to deal with women's problems.

Where The Emigrant Family fails is in its adoption of a clumsy romantic plot that sits uncomfortably on the realistic material. The division between realistic experience and literary romance is even more striking in James Tucker's Ralph Rashleigh (written between 1844 and 1850), which falls stylistically into two distinct parts, the first containing Ralph's early career as a thief in London, his convict experiences, his escape and forcible adoption by a gang of bushrangers, the second containing his escape from the Coal River settlement, his subduing overwhelming numbers of Aborigines and his life with an Aboriginal tribe in north Queensland.

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