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Nevil “Shute” Norway was born on January 17,1899 as the son of Arthur Hamilton Norway, a writer of travel books, in Ealing, Middlesex, England (Locker 396). Nevil Norway spent his early years during the early parts of the Sinn Fein Rebellion, where he helped served with the Red Cross. He later served as a soldier in France during World War I. After the war’s end in 1918, he returned home and went to Oxford to finish his studies (Kunitz 1034). He had gained an interest in engineering and aeronautics after being influenced through the many years of war. He also had a craving for writing and describing things on paper, which would later help him in his studies, engineering career, and his future writings (Locker 396). Some years after graduating from Oxford he became Chief Engineer for the famous airship R100. During this time is when he completed his first novel, Marazan. When the R100 disaster occurred, the company ended the building of airships and Nevil Norway turned his devotion to the manufacturing of airplanes and created his own business, Airspeed Limited. His second novel, So Disdained, was published in 1926 and released in the United States, as The Mysterious Aviator in 1928 (Kunitz and Haycraft 1034). During this time he began to write under the Christian name Nevil Shute, because he feared that his reputation as a fiction writer would hinder his engineering career (Internet). Through the next many years, up until World War II, Nevil Shute published many more books. Shute then moved to Australia in 1949, to concentrate on his writings. During his
years through both world Wars, his experiences greatly influenced his writings. His statement, ”…to write something which could make me forget that there was such a thing as war,” demonstrates how much the wars’ actions and aftermath reflected upon him (Shute, An Old Captivity). Nevil Shute is a Contemporary Arthur in the Twentieth Century who distinguishes his writings by his realistic adventures and detailed descriptions of modern society and their lifestyles. His settings combined with his imagination creates a truly unique type of literature that relates to many readers and survivors of his generation.
Shute’s adventures and the life of his characters are also from a mind of creativity. Shute’s adventures consist of small town and small English family life. He uses his experience and his personal past in creating such scenarios. In Ordeal, a small English family is thrown out of their home in Southampton and forced to take refuge on a houseboat. This was drawn from Shute’s early childhood experience during the Sinn Fein Rebellion (Locker 396). Shute spent many of his writing years in Australia, where he derived at his main source of information for some of his adventures, such as On The Beach, where the base of the action is located in Australia (Shute, On The Beach). His characters are also unique in his works. They consist of person to person dialogue in first person. His dialogue is mostly straightforward and relevant to the novel’s plot. Shute keeps his characters running smoothly to the plot along with the novels’ sequence of events. He does not have the characters thrown into his plots. All the characters serve a purpose and a direct affect in Shute’s novels( Shute, Pied Paper).
Shute uses a unique style in describing and building his settings for his novels. Some of his settings are set in the future, sometimes being decades ahead of the publication dates. The novels written were still believable and related to the present dates of which he wrote them, instead of having all the advanced technologies and bewildered society life of the people (Shute,
On The Beach). Many of his settings and plots were based on post war or war times in his novels, such as On The Beach, The Far Country, and Pied Paper. Even though a novel of his was set twenty years in the future, he writes it as just being the day ahead of him. His skies, clouds, and earth’s atmosphere are still all natural and the people still use and deprive the lands as they do. In fact, all his writings are really just about his present day experiences and thoughts, that are set
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Thriller novels, English-language films, Submarine films, Nevil Shute, Marazan, On the Beach, So Disdained, Norway, An Old Captivity, The Far Country, R100, Slide Rule: Autobiography of an Engineer
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