Manning Clark’s Obsessions
Manning Clark is a giant of Australia’s cultural landscape. His impact and influence on our history and our way of understanding our history constitute a lasting legacy - which is exactly what Clark would have wished. In Mark McKenna’s new biography, An Eye for Eternity, the self-styled historian-sage emerges as a deeply complex man, riddled with obsessions that included Australia’s national identity and a more personal quest to be remembered.
Mark McKenna is one of Australia’s leading contemporary historians. Seven years in the making, his biography of Manning Clark is his most ambitious project to date. Here, he discusses his work - its burdens and revelations - with Michael Cathcart, suggesting some of the material he uncovered appears to have been left by Clark for a posthumous biographer to find.
Cathcart and McKenna discuss Clark’s parents, his occasional stoushes with the academic establishment, his obsession with Australian national identity, his journey to becoming a public figure, his identification with Dostoevsky, his relationship with Patrick White, and his desire to ensure his own immortality.