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y separately published work icon On the Beach single work   novel   science fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 1957... 1957 On the Beach
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'After the war is over, a radioactive cloud begins to sweep southwards on the winds, gradually poisoning everything in its path. An American submarine captain is among the survivors left sheltering in Australia, preparing with the locals for the inevitable. Despite his memories of his wife, he becomes close to a young woman struggling to accept the harsh realities of their situation. Then a faint Morse code signal is picked up, transmitting from the United States and the submarine must set sail through the bleak ocean to search for signs of life.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (2009 Vintage ed.).

Exhibitions

9490353

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon On the Beach John Paxton , ( dir. Stanley Kramer ) Los Angeles : Stanley Kramer Productions , 1959 Z1421090 1959 single work film/TV science fiction

Set five years in the future (in 1964), On the Beach explores the lives of several Australians and some crew members of an American submarine following a nuclear war that has wiped out the population of the northern hemisphere. The submarine finds temporary safe haven in Australia, where life as usual covers growing despair that the winds will inevitably spread radiation to the southern hemisphere, bringing about the end of mankind. The principal characters are the submarine's commander, Captain Dwight Towers, who is in denial about the loss of his wife and children in the holocaust; the careworn but gorgeous Australian woman, Moira Davidson, who begins to fall for him; Julian Osborne, a conscious-stricken scientist whose dream is to win the Australian Grand Prix automobile race; and Lt. Cmdr. Peter Holmes, who is as concerned about his wife and newborn child's future as his own. All cope with the inevitability of death in their own way, but also with love, dignity, and affection. When a Morse code signal is picked up from San Diego, the submarine travels back to the United States' west coast.

form y separately published work icon The Red Box Digby Rumsey , ( dir. Digby Rumsey ) United Kingdom (UK) : Auteur Films , 2000 19533427 2000 single work film/TV Described by the director as a 'millennial' adaptation of On the Beach, this short film sets actors against images of contemporary Australia.
form y separately published work icon On the Beach David Williamson , Bill Kerby , ( dir. Russell Mulcahy ) Australia : Southern Star Entertainment Edwards/Sullivan Productions , 2000 Z1606977 2000 single work film/TV science fiction

'Australia is the last place on earth still unaffected by the nuclear fallout of World War II. As the people of Melbourne await the deadly radiation clouds southerly drift, a few survivors from the northern hemisphere, including the US submarine SSN Charleston commanded by Lt. Commander Dwight Towers, make their way into the last safe port of call.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 2/8/2012)

Notes

  • Epigraph: Stanzas from T. S. Eliot's 'The Hollow Men', including the final two lines:

    This is the way the world ends

    Not with a bang but a whimper.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Heinemann , 1957 .
      image of person or book cover 3868054090120247809.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 312p.
      Reprinted: 1959
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Heinemann ,
      1957 .
      image of person or book cover 563705891372233303.jpg
      Extent: 312p.
      Reprinted: 1957 , 1958 , 1959 , 1960
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Ballantine Books ,
      1957 .
      image of person or book cover 6700559523412637422.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 278p.
      Reprinted: 1974 , 1990 , 1997 , 1977
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      William Morrow ,
      1957 .
      Extent: 320p.
      Reprinted: 1966 , 1969 , 1986
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Pan ,
      1966 .
      Extent: 266p.
      ISBN: 0330105701
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Heron Books ,
      1968 .
      Extent: 311p.
      Note/s:
      • Original illustrations by Charles Keeping.
    • Geneva,
      c
      Switzerland,
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Edito-Service ,
      1968 .
      Extent: 311p.
      Note/s:
      • Original illustrations by Charles Keeping.
    • Toronto, Ontario,
      c
      Canada,
      c
      Americas,
      :
      New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Bantam Books ,
      1968 .
      Extent: 278p.
      Reprinted: 1972
    • c
      Canada,
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Heron Books ,
      1970-1979 .
      Extent: 312p.
      Note/s:
      • Published by arrangement with William Heinemann. Original illustrations by Charles Keeping.
    • Mattituck, New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Amereon House ,
      1970-1979 .
      Extent: 311p.
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon A Nevil Shute Omnibus Nevil Shute , London : Heinemann , 1973 Z1423366 1973 selected work novel London : Heinemann , 1973
    • Leicestershire,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Thorpe ,
      1984 .
      ISBN: 0708982328
    • Cutchogue, New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Buccaneer Books ,
      1985 .
      image of person or book cover 6205970397181412051.png
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Link: 18715416Access online Sighted: 26/02/2020
      Extent: 250p.
      ISBN: 0899683657
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Dover , 1987 .
      image of person or book cover 1740847042708805567.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 100p.
    • Toronto, Ontario,
      c
      Canada,
      c
      Americas,
      :
      General Paperbacks ,
      1989 .
      image of person or book cover 1421845466146610508.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 266p.
      ISBN: 0773671943
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Mandarin ,
      1990 .
      image of person or book cover 6162010708602312781.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 320p.
      ISBN: 0749304081
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon A Town Like Alice ; The Far Country ; On the Beach Nevil Shute , London : Peerage Books , 1991 Z1423359 1991 selected work novel London : Peerage Books , 1991
    • Cutchogue, New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Lightyear Press ,
      1998 .
      image of person or book cover 1336902401979529361.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      ISBN: 0899683657
    • Thirsk, Yorkshire,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      House of Stratus ,
      2000 .
      image of person or book cover 2596708756747559262.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 296p.
      ISBN: 1842322761
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Vintage UK ,
      2009 .
      image of person or book cover 270668814685325555.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 320p.p.
      Reprinted: 2010 (ebook)
      Note/s:
      • Published 1 December 2009 (paperback) and 1 July 2010 (ebook).
      ISBN: 9780099530251 (pbk), 9781409087397 (ebk)
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      c
      United States of America (USA),
      c
      Americas,
      :
      Vintage ,
      2010 .
      image of person or book cover 8224478027686371214.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 312p.
      ISBN: 9780307473998, 0307473996
      Series: y separately published work icon Vintage International New York (City) : Vintage , 1993- 19532994 1993 series - publisher novel

      'William Faulkner, Philip Roth, Alice Munro, Thomas Mann, Doris Lessing, Albert Camus, V.S. Naipaul, Gabriel García Márquez, Salman Rushdie, Joan Didion, and Cormac McCarthy, among many others: Vintage International is devoted to publishing the best writing of the past century from the world over. Offering both classic and modern fiction and literary nonfiction in elegant editions, Vintage International aims to provide readers with world-class writing that has stood the test of time and essential works by the preeminent authors of today.'

      Source: Vintage.

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2019 .
      image of person or book cover 6116285226335380542.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 352p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 3 December 2019.
      • Introduced by Gideon Haigh.
      ISBN: 9781922268327
      Series: y separately published work icon Text Classics Text Publishing (publisher), Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012- Z1851461 2012 series - publisher novel 'Great books by great Australian storytellers.' (Text website.)
Alternative title: Ventetid
Language: Danish

Other Formats

  • Braille.
  • Sound recording.

Works about this Work

'Dystopia' : A History of the Genre in (and) Australia Amy Schoonens , 2020 single work criticism
— Appears in: Beyond the Dark : Dystopian Texts in the Secondary English Classroom 2020; (p. 8-34)
The Australian Book You've Finally Got Time for: On the Beach by Nevil Shute Chris Flynn , 2020 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 21 May 2020;
'I often wonder how many people bought On the Beach when it came out in 1957, assuming it was a novel about a group of gorgeous, sun-kissed surfers catching breaks all summer long. On the Beach is instead about a bunch of miserable Melburnians waiting to die slowly and horribly from radiation poisoning after the world has been annihilated in a nuclear holocaust started by the Albanians.' (Introduction)
Anthropocene and the End of the World : Apocalypse, Dystopia, and Other Disasters Kylie Crane , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: Anglophone Literature and Culture in the Anthropocene 2019; (p. 158-175)
Analyses a series of Australian novels in terms of their dystopian approach to climate change.
The Poetics of Size : Rendering Apocalyptic Scale in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road Eleanor Smith , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Colloquy : Text Theory Critique , December no. 35/36 2018; (p. 82-98)

'This article examines the textual rendering of space in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957) and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), two novels depicting the ancient trope of apocalypse. Contributing to the study of geography in literature, it argues that these authors manipulate perspective, language and content to distort the familiar shape of spatial units, creating story worlds that resonate with a crisis of scale. Inverting the spatial enlargement produced by globalisation, they depict societies ruined by a global network they cannot “cognitively map.” The consideration of scale is crucial to fully understanding the sense of crisis apparent in contemporary apocalyptic fiction, which manifests, in our era of global connectedness, as an anxiety about the extent of human activity.' (Publication abstract)

Before On the Beach: Melbourne on Film in the 1950s Adrian Danks , 2017 single work essay
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , December no. 85 2017;

Stanley Kramer’s fizzingly apocalyptic On the Beach (1959) dominates and defines popular understandings of Melbourne’s cinematic representation in the 1950s. Shot in the city and its surroundings from January to March 1959, and released internationally towards the end of the year, both the film and Nevil Shute’s source novel have been highly influential in reinforcing and promoting specific understandings of 1950s Melbourne as a staid, sleepy, uneventful and architecturally conservative metropolis. This hard-to-shake view of Melbourne has been further compounded by the lack of comparative feature film images of the city (a brief view in 1952’s Road to Bali excepted) and its appearance in such international documentaries as The Melbourne Rendezvous (1957). But Melbourne does appear more dynamically in a range of less noted and disparate short films, mini-features and documentaries produced by government funded entities like the Australian National Film Board and the State Film Centre of Victoria, small production entities formed around the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Melbourne (often made by major Melbourne architects such as Robin Boyd and Peter McIntyre) and the Melbourne University Film Society, and such maverick independent filmmakers as Giorgio Mangiamele. Many of the works also provide a more critical, though at times celebratory, view of the changing cityscape of Melbourne (height limits for buildings were “exploded” by the completion of ICI House in 1958), the tentative embrace of modernity and internationalisation (e.g. the impact of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics) and the changing ethnicities of the inner city and suburbs. This essay maps and challenges broader understandings of Melbourne’s filmic representation in the 1950s by exploring the various ways in which the city is figured in unjustly forgotten or marginalised films like The Melbourne Wedding Belle (1953), Your House and Mine (1954) and Sunday in Melbourne (1958).

Book Packs a Bang as World Whimpers Robert Hefner , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: Canberra Sunday Times , 22 August 2004; (p. 19)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
Reviewed Briefly 1957 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 25 September vol. 78 no. 4050 1957; (p. 59)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
[Review] On the Beach 1957 single work review
— Appears in: New Republic , 12 August no. 137 1957; (p. 20)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
[Review] On the Beach 1957 single work review
— Appears in: New York Herald Tribune Book Review , 28 July 1957; (p. 1)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
[Review] On the Beach 1957 single work review
— Appears in: San Francisco Chronicle , 24 July 1957; (p. 19)

— Review of On the Beach Nevil Shute , 1957 single work novel
The Joy of Text Patti Miller , 2003 single work essay
— Appears in: Good Weekend , 26 July 2003; (p. 39, 41)
Miller discusses the pleasure she derives from reading. She cites a number of books that she has particularly enjoyed, including The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James as well as some works by Australian authors.
The Golden Age of Australian Science Fiction Sean McMullen , 1995 single work column
— Appears in: Science Fiction : A Review of Speculative Literature , vol. 12 no. 3 (Issue 36) 1995; (p. 3-28)
Solace by the Sea Fiona Capp , 2004 single work essay
— Appears in: The Age , 13 March 2004; (p. 8)
Shute the Messenger Gideon Haigh , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Monthly , June no. 24 2007; (p. 42-53)
'Yet 50 years ago this month, Shute published arguably Australia's most important novel - important in the sense of confronting a mass international audience with the defining issue of the age.' (Gideon Haigh)
Mr Shute's Apocalypse David Moody , 1959 single work
— Appears in: The Melbourne Critical Review , no. 2 1959; (p. 100-105)
Last amended 18 Jun 2020 11:40:32
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  • Melbourne, Victoria,
  • 1950s
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