The Poetics of Size: Rendering Apocalyptic Scale in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
journal contributionposted on 13.12.2018 by Eleanor Smith
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
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.