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On the Beach (1957)

de Nevil Shute

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
4,2181582,048 (3.85)337
Following a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere, the inhabitants of a small Australian community wait for the inevitable aftereffects of the bombs to reach them.
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    A Canticle for Leibowitz de Walter M. Miller Jr. (lisanicholas)
    lisanicholas: Another post-apocalyptic story, Miller's Canticle takes place centuries after nuclear war destroys the world's civilizations, and a new civilization has arisen from the ruins.
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    The Handmaid's Tale de Margaret Atwood (Simone2)
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    The Last Ship de William Brinkley (goddesspt2)
  6. 10
    On the Beach [2000 film] de Russell Mulcahy (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Free interpretation with lots of new material. Vast improvement on the novel. More dramatic plot, more interesting characters, more bleakness in the end. As intense, powerful and gripping as Mr Shute's mediocre original never is.
  7. 00
    Kalki de Gore Vidal (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Another end-of-the-world story. Less plausible but more terrifying. Far better written and far more entertaining than Mr Shute's mediocre and massively boring novel.
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    Earth Abides de George R. Stewart (sturlington)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 157 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
I'm going to be hard-pressed to find a better post-apocalyptic novel. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
it took me a while to get into this. it should have been fascinating, but it wasn't. the world is ending, and because this was written in the 50's instead of now, it's not climate change that is doing it but the after-effects of nuclear war. the world is dying of radiation poisoning, and although it was initially a surprise, now each city can predict when the radiation will reach them, and so how long they have left to live.

shute spends far too much time on the business side of things, showing us the measuring of the radiation and the work that goes into determining that there really is no hope of survival. the far more interesting story would have been the people's reaction to this information, and how people choose to spend their last days on a world that will outlive them. most of the people in the book continue to go about their everyday lives. so people go to work, make purchases for the future, even attend classes. only one person really does something he's always wanted to do but never got around to. it would have been much more interesting to me to discuss these decisions and understand if people are in denial, don't know what else to do with their time, doing these things because they want to, etc. this book was very coldly written; the people are all at a distance, so maybe this wouldn't have been possible for him. (i mean, the baby is constantly referred to as "it" in the narration - as in: he picked it up and took it inside for a nap - so i'm not sure shute is the right person to tell a personal, warm story.) but this, to me, is what matters and what is interesting. most of the people in the book accept death readily. they have the mentality that we have to die sometime, is this really that different? but there is no looting, no crying, no hysteria. it feels unrealistic and also like he just didn't give it enough attention.

i know this is a warning, so he probably had to show a little what radiation can do to a place, but he ended up focusing on the least interesting thing, and missing a real opportunity by not giving us the personal reactions to the (temporary) end of life on earth. this could have been so much more.

"The human race was to be wiped out and the world made clean again for wiser occupants without undue delay. Well, probably that made sense." ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Feb 20, 2021 |
Spoiler Alert: This novel is about how to die. Forget the reviews that wonder how people could conduct themselves so serenely and not go off like crazed rats. If I had the knowledge that I - and everyone else - would be extinct in a matter of weeks, how would I want the end to be?
I finished reading this novel last night with a powerful rush of emotion followed by involuntary tears and a horrible feeling of powerlessness. I tried to shake this off with a start on some absurd Nabokov (Despair) but it didn't work. All night I dreamt about how I would die in this situation.
In the first dream, everyone was scrambling into a cave. I was following a loved one. Deeper and deeper into the earth we burrowed. I wanted to stop and go back but I also wanted to be with the one I love. They went on. The effects of radiation began to tell on me and I wanted to be near my loved one but not in the dark, buried under ground. We died there and I felt so disappointed that I hadn't gone my own way. I awoke in a state, realised it was the novel and a dream.
My subconscious wasn't satisfied, so back into the dream state I go and the dream runs again. And again. And again. Finally, I wake and realise that life is not so serious. Dying well is more important than running on the rollercoaster of others' ideas. Trust the process. And off into the deepest sleep I go.
No art has ever affected me so. Arriving at this novel and discovering such powerful emotions was a fortunate accident of circumstance. Dilectio Libertas et Doctrina. Love, Freedom, and Learning. Such a powerful way to live.
My choice of books is often a result of random events that open an entirely new world of thought. On a recent road trip, my girlfriend selected the podcast The Cold War Vault, and we listened to the episodes about the Net Evaluation Subcommittee and how it painted an increasingly gloomy picture of the United States' ability to win a nuclear war in the late 1950s.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was President at the time, and Nevil Shute's novel was published in 1957, followed by the 1959 film starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins, Donna Anderson, and Fred Astaire. The novel and the film painted a bleak picture that almost materialised during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. By then, Robert McNamara's strategy of "mutual assured destruction" (MAD) was gearing up, and the Net Evaluation Subcommittee had made itself obsolete. 
In 1983, Carl Sagan's warnings of a nuclear winter following even a limited nuclear war would ramp up the scientific debate about the end of the world. But Nevil Shute, a Brit-turned-Aussie (and author of A Town Like Alice and Beyond the Black Stump), had set it out already in On the Beach.
I had no idea about Nevil Shute. The connection to Australia came out in the Cold War Vault podcast, which referred to the film and "Anthony Perkins' non-existent Australian accent". I was intrigued and the next thing I notice, the book is staring at me in Elizabeth's Bookshop in Newtown.
These random connections in my various readings are wonderful. Even while writing this up, I looked for a link to Nabokov's Despair and discovered that it, too, had been made into a film starring Dirk Bogarde. Much like Shute, I knew nothing of Bogarde until I read Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and watched the 1971 film. I've since read several of Bogarde's autobiographical stories, opening up another world of French gardens and country living.
Back to On the Beach, unlike the horror of dying from radiation exposure as thousands of people did after the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Shute tells of the various approaches to death taken by the characters left in Melbourne as nuclear fallout following the short World War III in the northern hemisphere slowly engulfs the rest of the planet.
The hopelessness of it all is symbolised by a trip in a nuclear submarine to test an optimistic theory that radiation levels are decreasing closer to the north pole and to investigate the origin of random morse code transmissions from near Seattle. Yeoman Swain escapes the submarine off the coast of his hometown and is later seen in his boat with an outboard motor fishing. He refuses to die in a strange land in a few weeks' time, preferring to die in a few days at home. It's the individual choices that make this story so vividly disturbing.
One character decides to remain faithful to his dead wife (unlike Gregory Peck in the movie version!). Another buys a Ferrari race car and pushes himself to the limit in scenes where several drivers die brutally in an ad hoc Australian Grand Prix. He takes his prescribed suicide tablets (provided free by the local pharmacy) while sitting, victoriously, in his well-preserved car.
A couple and their daughter decide to just get it over with. A farmer worries about his cattle and makes sure they have enough feed. The naval officer goes down with his ship outside of territorial waters, and Ava Gardner's character gets sloshed and takes her suicide pills just as Gregory Peck's character (she doesn't shag him in the novel) sails off into the sunset and before diarrhea strikes her again. She's on the beach. Hence the name.
This novel demonstrates how stupid it all is - going through the motions because we don't know how to live, let alone die. I am still disturbed when I think about the novel, but differently than in my first nightmare last night.
Much like my literary idol Professor Harold Bloom said, as we age we read against the clock. But we might also prepare to die well. That starts now. And that, I believe, is what Nevil Shute was trying to say. ( )
  madepercy | Jan 30, 2021 |
Tediously dry and archaic. Cannot be bothered. ( )
1 vote mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
I love post-nuclear-apocalypse stories (and even better, books about the war/transition period itself), and this one is a classic. What I was most interested in was detail on what survivable forces (submarines, etc.) would do after an initial exchange, particularly if the continental US was destroyed. In this case, two submarines survived, attaching themselves to a surviving allied command, which is one of the rumored likely possibilities.

Overall the book was a bit defeatist, and focused mostly on the psychology of the survivors, but it was still interesting. Rather dated in a lot of ways, though. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
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Nevil Shuteautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Powers, Richard M.Artista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Prebble, SimonNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river...

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

--T.S. Eliot
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Lieutenant Commander Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy woke soon after dawn.
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"I couldn't bear to - to just stop doing things and do nothing. You might as well die now and get it over." ... "I'd like to do things right, up to the end."
As time passed, the radioactivity would pass also ... these streets and houses would be habitable again ... The human race was to be wiped out and the world made clean again for wiser occupants."
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Following a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere, the inhabitants of a small Australian community wait for the inevitable aftereffects of the bombs to reach them.

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