As we move closer to summer, you can tell this because it’s westerly winds blowing in the rain against the window rather than northerlies, I think it could be time to talk about beaches and their role in novels.
Beaches That Feature In Novels
Where to start, well probably one of the beach highlights moments is in Albert Camus’s “The Stranger” or “L’Étranger”, it does sound better in French.
Meursault, the protagonist and narrator of the novel, shoots and kills an unnamed Arab on a beach, for no reason really, apart from he can. Not a great moment for the Arab but pivotal in the novel when Meursault’s status as someone living beyond the norms of society becomes clear. It’s a great novel about dislocation and disconnection from those around you.
Of course there’s Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock”, a tale of the criminal underworld and the inappropriate use of acid and razors in the 1930s seaside town.
Pinkie Brown, the completely unhinged central character of the book has a rather unfortunate encounter with a beach.
As with many of Greene’s novels, the theme of Catholicism and guilt about urges is never far from the surface.
More straightforwardly there’s Alex Garland’s brilliant 1st novel “The Beach”. Set in Thailand, it follows the search for a mythical, unspoilt beach by a young British backpacker Richard.
What starts out as a tale of drugs, sex and perfect sunsets turns into something less appealing.
Again, the beach turns out to be a less relaxing environment than one would hope for and sunburn is the least of anyone’s worries.
The beach is at the heart of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. As with Alex Garland’s novel, the beach is initially a place of safety and it’s where the boys lay out the rules for their society, make their decisions and live. However, as time passes things become a little more unpredictable.
So, if you’re spending your summer on a beach somewhere remember, although it may seem like the perfect retreat just below the surface lurks chaos, death and murder.
Have you had any dark encounters at the beach?