Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      Moving Day Coming Soon   01/11/2021

      As many of you know, we've been looking at changing hosts for a while now. This will allow us to access the tech support we need for the site and should speed up the forum as well as ironing out a few issues we've been having recently.    We are now signed up to the new hosting plan and can go ahead with the move as soon as the new hosts have everything they need (which is currently being sorted!). The forum should not be offline for more than a day during the switch and hopefully it won't even take that long. I don't have an exact time or day for the move yet but this is an early warning to expect some downtime soon.   When we are offline, no matter how briefly, you can follow the forum twitter page (@bookclubforum) for updates.  

On the Beach by Nevil Shute - April, 2014  

10 members have voted

  1. 1. What did you think of this book?

    • 5/5 Loved it!
    • 4/5 Really liked it.
    • 3/5 Enjoyed it.
      0
    • 2/5 It was ok, or meh.
      0
    • 1/5 Really disliked it.
      0


Recommended Posts

I've tried to remember if he has been in any other dramatic roles, and I seem to remember something about it, but can't find any evidence by googling.  I don't remember any of the actors aside from Peck and Gardner. 

 

He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Towering Inferno :)  Anthony Perkins was in On The Beach, but I can't remember any of the others apart from those mentioned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Well, with the advance warning, they could have excavated more than usual, whilst able.  As a practical matter.

 

Also, as with any novel, there is a certain suspension of disbelief.  I think Shute wanted to dwell on the more emotional aspects of the situation.  Plus, of course, put out his own warning regarding our technological advances.

 

Just as he didn't dwell on the worse aspects of human nature.  He mentioned, briefly, the looting and drunkenness going on, but then went on to what he considered the finer aspects of human nature.  Love, loyalty, duty.

 

 

hmmm ok perhaps however ... it kind of stands out as one of those ... hmm that wasn't well explained / properly thought through / requires a bit suspension of disbelief moments. I don't much like them :)

 

:)  I can see your point.  The trouble is that when an author does explain all the inconsistencies, it gets irritating (to me, at least) and takes away from the flow of the narrative.  Sort of a "need to know" thing.  We don't need to know that particular item to understand the broader aspects of the novel. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started wondering/thinking about the Doomsday Clock, and wondered where it was in 1957 when Shute was writing this novel. 

Well, I found this picture of it's progression since inception in 1947.

 

2cet8vn.png

 

Source Wiki link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock

 

As you can see, it was at pretty much it's lowest ebb. Reflecting Shute's concern and the tone of On the Beach.

 

If you scroll down on the link, you'll see the image, and below that a timeline of what was happening at the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

 

 

 

:)  I can see your point.  The trouble is that when an author does explain all the inconsistencies, it gets irritating (to me, at least) and takes away from the flow of the narrative.  Sort of a "need to know" thing.  We don't need to know that particular item to understand the broader aspects of the novel. 

 

 

 

Aah but they mustn't be glaringly obvious either :) because then it's like an itchy spot in my brain and it won't go away and I keep thinking = naartjie why didn't he/she just say the lights went out .... see simple solution that would have fit all other details of his story, without subtracting or requiring a long explanation .... and I would have been a happy camper :) it is a logical inconsistency :) 

 

 

I must point out that I am the kind of person who watches a movie at least 2 / 3 times and notices all the things like the glass being half full then full again or the actors socks suddenly changing colour :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aah but they mustn't be glaringly obvious either :) because then it's like an itchy spot in my brain and it won't go away and I keep thinking = naartjie why didn't he/she just say the lights went out .... see simple solution that would have fit all other details of his story, without subtracting or requiring a long explanation .... and I would have been a happy camper :) it is a logical inconsistency :)

 

 

I must point out that I am the kind of person who watches a movie at least 2 / 3 times and notices all the things like the glass being half full then full again or the actors socks suddenly changing colour :)

 

At that point in the book, my brain made a little question mark, then passed it over. heh  I guess I'm just not a highly detailed person, the big picture is what's important to me.  It has to be more glaring than that to make much of an impression on me.

 

I'll tell you what did bother me though.  Not in the book, well, it was in the book but the fact that the gorgeous Ava Gardner played Moira, and in the book, Moira is a slender blonde.  It truly messed with my brain!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At that point in the book, my brain made a little question mark, then passed it over. heh  I guess I'm just not a highly detailed person, the big picture is what's important to me.  It has to be more glaring than that to make much of an impression on me.

 

I'll tell you what did bother me though.  Not in the book, well, it was in the book but the fact that the gorgeous Ava Gardner played Moira, and in the book, Moira is a slender blonde.  It truly messed with my brain!

 

Oddly enough those kinds of things don't bother me HUGELY although it does sometimes when I have a particularly strong image of a character in my head. When translating from book to screen, those details often get ignored, so I guess in a way I'm kind of used to it. I must admit that the only movie in recent years that has been a bother for me on that point are the Narnia movies. Just about the only character I can say they got right was Reepicheep. Every one else just didn't exactly seem right. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I didn't answer this one initially, but have given it some thought and come back to it.  It's a little late to the party, but that's okay!

 

How does Shute's writing style affect the mood of the novel?

Shute's writing is matter of fact and unemotional, serving to underscore the inevitability of the situation.  With the given subject matter, it would have been far too easy to overplay things in an attempt to elicit a certain emotional response from the reader. Shute's narration takes a step back, passing no judgement and allowing the reader to make up his or her own mind.  I think that's one of the things that makes this book still relevant today and makes it such an interesting one to discuss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I didn't answer this one initially, but have given it some thought and come back to it.  It's a little late to the party, but that's okay!

 

How does Shute's writing style affect the mood of the novel?

Shute's writing is matter of fact and unemotional, serving to underscore the inevitability of the situation.  With the given subject matter, it would have been far too easy to overplay things in an attempt to elicit a certain emotional response from the reader. Shute's narration takes a step back, passing no judgement and allowing the reader to make up his or her own mind.  I think that's one of the things that makes this book still relevant today and makes it such an interesting one to discuss.

 

Matter of fact, I agree.  But it is so powerful, and he is able to evoke such emotional responses in the reader, just imagining the feelings they are experiencing.  Truly a sign of a great writer, one that is able to pull that off.

 

I wondered about the strength of Shute's anti-war/nuclear stance, but look at the time line of the Doomsday Clock I posted above.  Shute wrote the story, well, it was published in 1957, so was written just prior.  From 1953 to 1960 the clock was closest to Midnight......aka Destruction.  Two minutes.  It's never been quite that close again.

 

Never too late, after all, it's only the 5th of the month.... :D  I think/hope that others that voted for the book will post their thoughts during the month, some time.  It's a lively discussion, so far. :)  But there is more to be delved into, I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think so, but it's real, not contrived, you know?  I was really impacted by the book, but I felt like it was on my terms, not because the author said, "This is sad so you must be sad."  He's a very skillful writer - one I wouldn't have known of had it not been for this reading circle.

 

I checked out the Doomsday Clock information.  Very interesting.  I'm sure the climate of unrest/impending nuclear destruction did come into play.  Perhaps this also served as a cautionary tale?  I found an interesting blurb from his daughter, Shirley Norway on this very topic.  She seems to feel that the book ignited a movement for nuclear disarmament/peace, not the other way around.  Here are the site and the quote:

 

http://www.nevilshute.org/Reviews/shirleynorway.php

 

Incidentally I do believe that On the Beach started the CND ( Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ) in England and the Peace movement in the US. I may be wrong. It was indeed a very powerful book when it was first published. It was also the book which seemed to me to absorb him more than any other. It certainly absorbed me. I first read it in manuscript. - Shirley Norway

Edited by dtrpath27

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have only just finished reading the book and am still feeling its enormous emotional impact.

I have finally read through the discussion and can't really add much to what has already been said.

But I did have one immediate reaction when I closed the cover.  It seemed to me the book was finally about love.

Love by people for others or for other important things of their life.  As each person faced their final moment they embraced who and/or what they loved, to the full extent they could, and some more than others but, still, love.

 

Which, by free association, brought to mind the words of St. Paul:

"So finally there are these three things, faith, hope and love [or "charity" in the KJV]

And the greatest of these is love."

An insight from 2,000 years ago, or more, and captured again powerfully by Nevil Shute.

All three are reflected in the book, it seems to me, and in the order Paul suggested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree, Paul.  I also felt it was a novel about love, and you are right - Paul's quote does sum the book up perfectly.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have only just finished reading the book and am still feeling its enormous emotional impact.

I have finally read through the discussion and can't really add much to what has already been said.

But I did have one immediate reaction when I closed the cover.  It seemed to me the book was finally about love.

Love by people for others or for other important things of their life.  As each person faced their final moment they embraced who and/or what they loved, to the full extent they could, and some more than others but, still, love.

 

Which, by free association, brought to mind the words of St. Paul:

"So finally there are these three things, faith, hope and love [or "charity" in the KJV]

And the greatest of these is love."

An insight from 2,000 years ago, or more, and captured again powerfully by Nevil Shute.

All three are reflected in the book, it seems to me, and in the order Paul suggested.

 

Yes completely agree. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have only just finished reading the book and am still feeling its enormous emotional impact.

I have finally read through the discussion and can't really add much to what has already been said.

But I did have one immediate reaction when I closed the cover.  It seemed to me the book was finally about love.

Love by people for others or for other important things of their life.  As each person faced their final moment they embraced who and/or what they loved, to the full extent they could, and some more than others but, still, love.

 

Which, by free association, brought to mind the words of St. Paul:

"So finally there are these three things, faith, hope and love [or "charity" in the KJV]

And the greatest of these is love."

An insight from 2,000 years ago, or more, and captured again powerfully by Nevil Shute.

All three are reflected in the book, it seems to me, and in the order Paul suggested.

 

Very well put.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think so, but it's real, not contrived, you know?  I was really impacted by the book, but I felt like it was on my terms, not because the author said, "This is sad so you must be sad."  He's a very skillful writer - one I wouldn't have known of had it not been for this reading circle.

 

I checked out the Doomsday Clock information.  Very interesting.  I'm sure the climate of unrest/impending nuclear destruction did come into play.  Perhaps this also served as a cautionary tale?  I found an interesting blurb from his daughter, Shirley Norway on this very topic.  She seems to feel that the book ignited a movement for nuclear disarmament/peace, not the other way around.  Here are the site and the quote:

 

http://www.nevilshute.org/Reviews/shirleynorway.php

 

Incidentally I do believe that On the Beach started the CND ( Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ) in England and the Peace movement in the US. I may be wrong. It was indeed a very powerful book when it was first published. It was also the book which seemed to me to absorb him more than any other. It certainly absorbed me. I first read it in manuscript. - Shirley Norway

 

Great site, dtr.  I checked on the CND site and it seems to have begun in 1958, the year after On the Beach was published, so it may well have been as a result of the book.  Here is a link to their book page, and OtB isn't listed, but I'm sure the list isn't complete.  Interestingly enough, they mention John Wyndham's The Chrysalids.  Here is the link. 

http://www.cnduk.org/information/books-and-films/itemlist/category/73-books

 

 

Thanks for the link to that site, there are some really good and thoughtful reviews on there. 

 

http://www.nevilshute.org/biblio_new.php <- for all the reviews of all his books.

 

LOL, glad you posted this, I was about to. :D  I  haven't read it yet, but I'm surprised at the number of books he wrote!  I had no idea.

 

 

 

I have only just finished reading the book and am still feeling its enormous emotional impact.

I have finally read through the discussion and can't really add much to what has already been said.

But I did have one immediate reaction when I closed the cover.  It seemed to me the book was finally about love.

Love by people for others or for other important things of their life.  As each person faced their final moment they embraced who and/or what they loved, to the full extent they could, and some more than others but, still, love.

 

Which, by free association, brought to mind the words of St. Paul:

"So finally there are these three things, faith, hope and love [or "charity" in the KJV]

And the greatest of these is love."

An insight from 2,000 years ago, or more, and captured again powerfully by Nevil Shute.

All three are reflected in the book, it seems to me, and in the order Paul suggested.

 

Yes, yes, and yes!  Great free association. :D

It does sum up nicely, Honor, Duty, and Love. 

 

Shute didn't forget the more sordid side, but I love the way he concentrated on the good side of humankind. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just for the record, and for context, On the Beach was a popular book published early in the possibility and contemplation of atomic war, back when it was thought that such a war could be fought (and won)..  It is bracketed between major technical works discussing the details of atomic and thermonuclear wars.  More recently, the SALT Treaties and thoughts of nuclear winter have moved forward into popular consciousness and gradual disarmament seems to reflect thinking that such weapons can never be used.  The timeline of major works is listed here.  Happy browsing for anyone who is interested. :)

 

1. The Effects of Atomic Weapons by Samuel Glasstone and J.O. Hirschfelder (1950)
2. On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957)

3. On Thermonuclear War by Herman Kahn (1960)
4. SALT Treaty (1979) See Wikipedia for complicated history.
5. Alexandrov, V. V. and G. I. Stenchikov (1983): "On the modeling of the climatic consequences of the nuclear war" The Proceeding of Appl. Mathematics, 21 p., The Computing Center of the AS USSR, Moscow.

6. "Nuclear Winter: Global Consequences of Multiple Nuclear Explosions". R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, J. B. Pollack, and Carl Sagan (23 December 1983). "Nuclear Winter: Global Consequences of Multiple Nuclear Explosions". Science 222 (4630): 1283–92.

7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter

Edited by Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amazon.  Amazon.  Amazon................/sigh/ :D

 

I wish I could remember the name of a book I read, probably in the early 1980's that followed a family's ordeal during a Nuclear Winter.  I've googled, with no satisfactory results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sadly however one of the drawbacks of the information age in which we live is that it is so dreadfully easy for would be nutters to find out how to cook up any number of nasty bombs on the internet. And while yes fissionable material is a little hard to come by, there is enough floating around for it not to be completely impossible for a fruitcake to get some, and you don't need much. Even just a regular bomb made 'dirty' with radioactive material (which thanks to our fascination with nuclear power stations is also not that hard to get a hold of - if you know the wrong kind of people) can be devastating in its effects. Forty some years on from when the book was written we don't seem to have as much progress as Nevil Shute would perhaps have liked in educating ourselves out of wanting / needing such weapons in the world. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe the book hasn't yet been read in all the countries of the world who are making mischief; but I think the bigger ones have taken the message and are doing their best to keep the lid on it.  Separately, we just watched the Ava Gradner/Gregory Peck/Fred Astaire film.  Wonderful performances all around and a credit to the book.  Still a weeper.  :empathy:

Edited by Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe the book hasn't yet been read in all the countries of the world who are making mischief; but I think the bigger ones have taken the message and are doing their best to keep the lid on it.  Separately, we just watched the Ava Gradner/Gregory Peck/Fred Astaire film.  Wonderful performances all around and a credit to the book.  Still a weeper.  :empathy:

 

Shute even had the foresight to address this problem in the book.  It wasn't the major players who started the trouble.  Unfortunately, once that bridge was crossed, there was no one with sense enough to go back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The film really did stay true to the book, in most ways.  Naturally a lot of detail was left out, and it was much better to have already read the book beforehand.  Peck was perfection as Dwight, I always like Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire was fabulous.  Just perfect for Osborne. 

A few names were different though.  The subs name was changed, and Osborne, John in the book became Julian in the film.  Oddness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THIS POST HAS SPOILERS FOR THE FILM, ON THE BEACH...........IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCES, DON'T READ THIS POST!

~
~
~
~
~
~
~
~
~

 

 

The major difference from book to film was the supposed consummation of the relationship between Dwight and Moira.  In the book, there was no physical intimacy aside from one kiss.  In the film nothing beyond embraces and some great kissing is shown, but the intimacy is definitely suggested. 

 

The director, Stanley Kramer handled this in an interesting manner.  At first he has Dwight acting as he does in the book.  Loyal to his (obviously deceased) wife and talking about his family as though they are alive.  Then on the submarine's trip North, and on the way back visiting San Francisco (instead of as in the book, Washington) he gazes through the periscope at all angles, taking in the desolation.  The viewer can tell from Dwight's face that the true realization of the death and destruction has hit home, and he is accepting the realization and truth of what has happened, including the death of his family. 

The scene is beautifully done, with great discretion and beauty. 

 

Apparently Peck argued against this change but was overruled by Kramer.  Here is an interesting link, an offshoot of one of the above links.  They are portions of Ava Gardner's bio, with quoted from Gardner and Peck, both. http://www.nevilshute.org/Reviews/gardner.php

Edited by pontalba

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Me too.  I only remembered the San Francisco scene.  Nothing else.  It's well worth a re-visit. Superior acting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×