Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter August 2018
(text only version)

Letters to the Editor

FROM Simon Allen
Fellow Readers,

I am about to upset some of you ... I have to 'downsize' and my collection of NSN paperbacks are between 40 and 45 years old. They are yellowed and taking up space - so they will be placed in the paper recycling bin. Should I want to read them again - are they now all available as eBooks? However, I do not expect to read them again. Most have been read two or three times and only On The Beach has been read once. I have so many new books to read and many books yet half read that I cannot give time to re-reading even these wonderful books. I know the books as well as I am going to.

I do have a copy of The Seafarers and that is in good order. I shall happily donate that to any of the NSN libraries or offer to a reading circle. Please request.

If you ask my top three have, for a long time, been:-
Requiem For A Wren (by a long margin)
In The Wet
An Old Captivity.

I shall remain a member of the circle through this newsletter.


FROM Andy Kwiatkowski

Dear NSN Foundation friends
My name is Andy and I am from Dunedin, New Zealand (temporarily livingin Queensland, Australia). I am seeking help for a research project on Shute.

A Shute reader at an early and impressionable age, he was always my favourite author. However in the process of obtaining a postgraduate degree in political philosophy (and growing up into a screaming lefty) I found I grew to vehemently disagree with almost all of Shute's moral and political positions as stated in his fiction. However I still read him frequently and fondly, and his work will always be very special to me.
But leaving my personal experiences and biases aside, I find it more than a little odd that (as far as I can find) nobody has written
extensively and thoroughly on his political philosophy. I know we all agree it is deserving of close scrutiny!
There are plenty of places (like the foundation website, for one) that will provide a tonne of historical and contextual information on the man, as well as some talks, short form pieces, speculation, notes about being 'prophetic' re: metal fatigue, tall tales, and not to mention of course the wonderful biographies and autobiography. There is an informal collection of things we all agree about - eg his conservatism, anti government etc etc - and will toss out there as 'that's a very NSN idea'; we share a short-hand, but there seems to be nothing exhaustive that treats all his works as one long text that is trying to communicate a unified thesis to us (in the manner of a Socratic dialogue). What do we mean when we think of 'his philosophy'? Even leaving aside authorial intent and the obvious comparisons with his lived experiences, what does all of the fiction alone add up to,and does it hold water?

I find the idea of writing 100,000 words on this topic for a PhD
thesis extremely exciting - not to mention that it would appear to be the first time anybody has done it and is therefore 'new' knowledge and worth doing for everybody else as much as myself.

I would like to ask you all for any reputable, peer-reviewed sources you might be able to provide. Am I mistaken about this? Are there in fact already resources out there that systematically catalog and deconstruct these political, social, economic, religious positions? I am very curious. I have found only a handful of articles in the whole of the world's online libraries that mention him in passing as an author, but absolutely nothing on his works themselves. But maybe I have simply not been looking in the right places. Working from the primary sources alone would be okay, but as for secondary sources it may be time to reach out and crowd-source. Please email me articles and links if you have them.

Life and finances have prevented me from beginning this project in earnest since I conceived it some years ago, and it may very well be one of those things I put off until my later years in life. But as far away and impossible as it sometimes seems, I am heartened and sustained by an article that insists we must be ready to read and embrace fiction as philosophical texts or a handbook for our real lives (Martha Nussbaum, "'Finely Aware and Richly Responsible': Literature and the Moral Imagination," in Anti-Theory in Ethics and Moral Conservatism, Stanley Clarke & Evan Simpson eds. (State University of New York Press, 1989). Of course, I need to find an appropriate supervisor as well. NS does not appear to be very widely read in New Zealand.

Thus I would also like to extend an invitation to any New Zealand
based members to get in touch with me. If there was enough of us it would be great to host an event at some point; for example, I know there is an Airspeed Oxford in the Christchurch aviation museum.

And finally if you think I'm barking up the wrong tree with this, do say so, because if anybody would know it would be you guys!

You may drop me a line at

Best wishes and hope to hear from you all soon,
Andy Kwiatkowski
29, New Zealand

FROM John Anderson (via Facebook)
Farewell to Mary Ellis, last of the ATA wartime pilots, who has died aged 101. The Air Transport Auxiliary was based at White Waltham airfield which Shutisits visited in 2012 on a memorable UK Shute weekend organised by Phil Nixon
Comment by John Fowles:
Some months ago whilst searching on YouTube for Spitfire stuff I found this video of this remarkable lady

FROM Phil Nixon (via Facebook)

Phil, who coincidentally, is looking to buy a property, found this:


A short newsletter this month.So short, that I have included two articles from the Shutist page on Facebook. (marked: via Facebook)

Dear friends if you want the newsletter to continue, please send me copy for it. Anything Shute related will do.

>From the Netherlands, where we are having a wonderful long, but very hot summer (34 C, 93 F), see you next month