Hurricanes: In Literature, Film, and Music

I thought it might be fun this weekend, especially for those on the east coast, to talk about books/movies/songs in which hurricanes and similar events play a prominent role. For starters:

Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies, C S Forester. Features not only a hurricane, but a Marine bandsman who faces execution on charges of willfully playing the wrong note.

The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk. The troubled and inadequate captain of a WWII destroyer-minesweeper panics during a typhoon.

Big Water Rising, Tom Russell and Iris DeMent. A Mississippi River flood.

Lost and Found, The Kinks. Hurricane hits NYC.


16 thoughts on “Hurricanes: In Literature, Film, and Music”

  1. Joseph Conrad, Typhoon. ‘Observing the steady fall of the barometer, Captain MacWhirr thought, “There’s some dirty weather knocking about.”‘

  2. One passage from Typhoon:

    … every ship Captain MacWhirr commanded was the floating abode of harmony and peace. It was, in truth, as impossible for him to take a flight of fancy as it would be for a watch-maker to put together a chronometer with nothing except a two-pound hammer and a whip-saw in the way of tools. Yet the uninteresting lives of men so entirely given to the actuality of the bare existence have their mysterious side. It was impossible in Captain MacWhirr’s case, for instance, to understand what under heaven could have induced that perfectly satisfactory son of a petty grocer in Belfast to run away to sea. And yet he had done that very thing at the age of fifteen. It was enough, when you thought it over, to give you the idea of an immense, potent, and invisible hand thrust into the ant-heap of the earth, laying hold of shoulders, knocking heads together, and setting the unconscious faces of the multitude towards inconceivable goals and in undreamt-of directions.

  3. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God uses the Okeechobee Hurricane that hit Florida in the late 20’s as a plot device.

  4. If you’re anywhere near the Shenandoah Valley in the next three months, come see The Tempest at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton. In the first scene, you would see what a talented bunch of actors can do to portray a hurricane and shipwreck with nothing but a few ropes and a blanket or two, without even any lighting effects. (In keeping with Elizabethan practice, the lights stay on the whole time.) Highly recommended.

  5. Nordoff and Hall’s Hurricane

    If memory serves me correctly (it’s getting more difficult) BOTH movies are based on this book.

  6. While it doesn’t deal directly with a hurricane, Charles Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast” has some great sailing scenes of their ship trying to return around Cape Horn and being repeatedly thwarted by storms at sea.

  7. How could I forget? In Walter Runciman’s Before the Mast — And After, there is a harrowing depiction of a tremendous gale in the Bay of Biscay that tossed a flotilla of steamships around like bathtub toys.

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