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This article focuses on the 1957 cinematic adaptation of Boldrewood's novel. Observing that 'an adaptation to another medium of a previously existing text can be seen as a materialised reading, one determined not only by particular technologies, legal regulations and generic conventions prevailing at the time the adaptation is made, each of which places constraints on what can be represented, but by assumptions about audience expectations and values', Webby examines the extent to which these factors also reflect national differences.
Henderson 'elucidates the topicality of Clarke's serialised novel ... by establishing Clarke's debts to Charles Reade. Turning attention to Clarke's "borrowings" from Reade's popular romances and stage melodramas counters scholarly preoccupation with historical documents as "sources" of His Natural Life ...[and] enables the reconstiution of His Natural Life as a work of Victorian modernity, interested as much in contemporary issues of international significance ... as it is in reconstructing Australia's convict past.'(p. 51)
The author explores the hybridity of the 'the collaborative life story and its close relative, testimonial writing' which occupies a position between ''literature and various modes of factual writing ... and between private and public, or political, discourse.' She sees it as a genre 'frequently troubled by generic, ethical and political dilemmas, especially in the case of cross-cultural collaboration' (p.66) However, her reading of Chinese-Australian texts demonstates that 'the cultural negotiation embodied by the cross-cultural life story offers a unique opportunity to observe the production of autobiographical "truth" in the interplay between generic expectation and textual variation.' (p.78)