Far Country, The

Primary Creator
Author Nevil Shute
Era1951 - 2000
Pages307 pages
Name of WorkFar Country, The
Production Date1952
Production Location

Current Location

Media Typesbook
General Notes

Page total, and page numbers used in the quotes here attached, are from the Heron Books, Nevil Shute Collection, published circa 1970's-80's(?)

The cover image is from the original 1952 novel published in the U.S. by William Morrow Publishers.


The plot centers around Jennifer Morton and Carl Zlinter. Jennifer is a young woman not sure of what to do with her life, who is provided the opportunity to visit an Aunt in Australia (she lives in England outside London). In doing so she becomes involved with the life of the sheep farmers and lumbermen of the beautiful countryside of Australia outside Melbourne. She slowly comes to realize that this country is a place where one can be free of the 1950's rationing and government control that people in England have become inured to. She meets Carl Zlinter who is a doctor from Czechoslovakia who is working as a lumberman to pay off his travel debts to Australia, and who cannot practice medicine since he is not licensed in the UK colonies, but only in his native country. In an emergency, he is induced to operate, in the woods, on two seriously injured men who would otherwise die. Jennifer assists him, though she has no nursing training. The story develops from there displaying the freedom, the beauty, the benevolence of the country and the people.


A good and happy life is made up of self-directed actions, self-chosen goals.

A less important theme is:
Freedom from government control.
Whether the government control results from devastating wars, or from socialist control of medical care, freedom is to be sought and prized.

Emotional Sum or Sense-of-life

Life can be bright, happy and successful, but hard decisions must be faced and dealt with.

Context Information

This book falls into the Romantic tradition of literature, since the plot is driven by choices of the main characters to live the best way they can. It also could fall into the "tradition" that Ayn Rand identified, about "realist" novels, since the plot is grounded in actual living humans and the way they live and deal with the travails of life.

Shute's writing style is very simple and straightforward, and unforced. So there is no literary "gilding of the lily" in his style, yet in his quiet, dispassionate way can evoke wonderful scenes and characters in places.

Discussion: Far Country, The

what is the theme?

I don't agree with your theme. I think the theme of the book is 'self-directedness' in some way. That doesn't oppose the importance of gov't control, but it is a more philosophical theme. You can't be self directed when you are outer-controlled/directed, but that is the 'plot-theme' as Ayn Rand described it. The theme is much more psychological, that a good life is made up of self-direction actions, self-chosen goals.

levels of theme?

I agree with you that a good way of looking at the novel is from the personal, psychological perspective of the characters having to make tough and important choices in their lives. My theme was focusing on the writer's idea against government control that ran thru the book (and thus inhibited freedom and stopped individual choices). But, I agree that it is better to name the theme in a way that refers to the psychology exhibited in the characters, because that is really more dominant a feature of the book.

What would you suggest the theme should be stated as specifically? And, BTW, I still think the theme I named could be left as a secondary level of looking at the book, while a "self-directedness" theme would be listed as primary.

Suggested theme statement

A good and happy life is made up of self-directed actions, self-chosen goals.