Benchley, Peter: The Deep
(researched by Brian Sutton)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1976. Copyright by Peter Benchley ISBN: 0-385-04742-8 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-44521
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First edition was published in 3/4 green cloth with black cloth spine. Gold lettering was used on the cover and spine.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
156 leaves [11], 1-301 half title, "Books by Peter Benchley," title page, copyright page, dedication, blank, half title, blank, text, blank, author's note, blank
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
There is no introduction to the novel. There is also no indication in the first edition of the novel that there was any editing done by anyone other then the author, Peter Benchley.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations in the first edition of this novel.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
The dust jacket is made of slick paper. On the dust jacket appears the author's name, the title of the novel, an inscription, a picture of a female swimmer rising out of the water with a funnel of expelled air rising above her.
Description of author's name: PETER BENCHLEY in white, block letters approximately one half inches tall. This appears approximately one half inch from the top of the dust jacket.
Description of the title: THE DEEP in all white, bold, block letters. The D and P are one and one half inches tall. The EE is one inch tall. "THE" is three eighths of an inch tall and is set above the "EE" so that they are between the taller "D" and "
P."
Description of the swimmer: There is a blonde, female, Caucasian swimmer clad in a yellow bikini rising from the bottom of the dust jacket. She is raising her right hand towards the surface of the water, which is approximately at the middle of the "D" i
n the title. She is expelling a funnel of air that rises towards the surface of the water. The funnel of air appears white with green edges. This is set against the overall black of the dust jacket. There is a shade of gray where the surface of the wa
ter is supposed to be. The funnel of air blends in with the bottom of the lettering of the title.
Inside of the white funnel of air is the inscription, A NEW NOVEL | BY THE AUTHOR OF | "JAWS".
The spine of the dust jacket contains the title of the novel in white block letter in the same fashion that it is printed on the cover with the exception of the lettering being smaller. "PETER BENCHLEY" appears also in white block letter, but below the t
itle on the spine and it is three and one half inches long. "DOUBLEDAY" appears at the bottom of the spine in white block letters measuring one eighth of an inch tall.
On the back of the dust jacket is a photograph of Peter Benchley. He is wearing a black suit with a white dress shirt without a tie. The cuffs of his shirt extend past the arms of his jacket and he has a white handkerchief in the left pocket of his suit
jacket. He is smiling with his left arm resting on a raised knee and his right arm by his side. Near the bottom of the page adjacent to the spine is the inscription "PHOTO BY ALEX GOTFRYD" in white block letters one eighth of an inch tall.
The binding of the book is green cloth with a black cloth spine. The lettering of the spine of the binding is the same as that which appears on the dust jacket spine. The only difference is that the lettering is gold. On the cover of the binding appear
s Peter Benchley's signature approximately two inches from the bottom. It is also in gold lettering.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is holding up extremely well over time. The paper is heavy and rough. The novel has a slight deckle edge.
11 Description of binding(s)
The front cover is 3/4 green cloth stamped with gold lettering. The spine is black cloth and it also is sta
mped in gold lettering. The back cover is 3/4 green cloth. The pages are sewn directly to the lining. The lining is glued directly to the front and back covers of the cloth binding. The end-papers are plain with no text on them.
12 Transcription of title page
PETER BENCHLEY | THE | DEEP | DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC., GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK | 1976
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
There is an uncorrected proof of the novel. This is from 1976 and is credited to Crane Duplicating Service for Doubleday. It is located in the Boston University Library and has 179 pages. The auth
or is still living so it is possible that he still has the original manuscript.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
On the second page there is the information, Books by Peter Benchley followed by THE DEEP|JAWS|TIME AND A TICKET. On the fourth page is the inscription, All of the
characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblence to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
On the fifth page is the dedication, for Teddy and Edna Tucker.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
In addition to the first edition published by Doubleday & Co. in 1976, Bantam released the first paperback edition of the novel in 1977. The novel has been tra
nslated into many languages. The novel has also been edited into several English language large-print editions. The first United Kingdom edition of the novel was published by Andre Deutsch in 1976.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
The first printing of the first edition of the
hardback novel was published by Doubleday & Co. in 1976. The first printing of the first edition of the paperback version was published by Bantam in 1977.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Title: The Deep Publisher: Andre Deutsch Year 1976 Page: 252 p; 21 cm
Title: The Deep Publisher: Bantam Books Year: 1977 Page: 290 p; 18 cm
Title: The Deep Publisher: Hutchinson Year: 1979 Page: 127 p; 19 cm Edition: For slow-learning students
Title: The Deep Publisher: Prior Year: 1977 Page: 441p; 25 cm Edition: Large print
Title: The Deep Publisher: Pan Books Year: 1977 Page: 251 p; 18 cm
Title: The Deep Publisher: G.K. Hall Year: 1976 Page: 441 p; 24 cm Edition: Large print
6 Last date in print?
Unknown
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Unknown
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
153,020 copies of the novel were sold in 1976.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
"A honeymoon couple go diving off Bermuda on a bright, sunny day - and find something. What follows is a stunningly suspenseful adventure story from the author o
f Jaws. Already bought by Bantam for one of their highest guarantees ever, the Book-of-the-Month Club (as a Featured Alternate), and Playboy Book Club - and soon to be a major motion picture from Peter Guber's Filmworks released through Columbia
Pictures - Peter Benchley's encore novel is another blockbuster in the making. May $7.95 04742-8" -Publisher's Weekly, January 12, 1976
"Next year, Bantam unleashes the most powerful parade of mass-market paperback bestsellers in its history! Each month, beginning with January, you'll find these coast-to-coast sellers. In addition there is an in-depth line-up of solid books for every m
arket - including GALVESTON, THE SHEPHERD, THE LAST CHANCE DIET, CONFLICT OF INTEREST. There will also be a number of stunning sales-packed originals including MAVREEN by Claire Lorrimer, DANGEROUS CLIMATE by Dianna Gaines and George McNeill's long-awai
ted sequel to THE PLANTATION; and spectacular movie tie-ins - BLACK SUNDAY, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED, THE DEEP among others. Of course, along the way there'll be other surprises. And to get maximum sales impact each month, these major titles will be backed
by powerhouse promotion, publicity and advertising." -Publisher's Weekly, November 15, 1976
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
A21019990304215848.jpg
11 Other promotion
The Deep the motion picture was nominated for an Oscar in 1978 for Best Sound. It was also nominated by the British Academy Awards for the BAFTA Film Award and the Best Cinemat
ography award. The motion picture also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song in a motion picture for "Down Deep Inside" by Donna Summer.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
The Deep the Motion Picture. Columbia Pictures, 1977. Runtime: USA: 123 minutes Language: English Color: Color Sound Mix: Dolby Certification: USA: PG
Starring, Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, Robert Shaw, Dick Anthony Williams and Louis Gossett Jr. Directed by Peter Yates with screenplay by Peter Benchley and Tracy Keenan Wynn
The Deep Videodisc released by Columbia Home Pictures, 1991 125 minutes
The Deep Videocassette released by GoodTimes Home Video Corp, 1988 120 minutes
The Deep Videocassette released by Columbia Pictures Industries, 1977 123 minutes

Marvel Comics Group put out the comic, "The Deep" in 1977. It is a 47 page color illustrated comic. Doug Moench is the author and he adapted the comic from the screenplay by Peter Benchley and Tracy Keenan Wynn which was based on the novel by Peter Benc
hley.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Language: Norwegian Title: Dypet Publisher:Gyldendal Norsk Forlag Translation: Axel Seeberg Year: 1976, 1977 Page: 214 p; 22 cm
Language: French Title: Les Chiens de Mer Publisher: Club Pour Vous-Hachette Translation: J.L. Fromental Year: 1976 Page: 305 p; 23 cm
Language: Finnish Title: Syvyyden Saalistajat Publisher: Uusi Kirjakerho Translation: Year: 1976 Page: 265 p; 22cm
Language: Turkish Title: Diptekiler Publisher: Altin Kitaplar Translation: Ozay Susoy Year: 1976 Page: 319 p; 20 cm
Language: Spanish Title: Abismo Publisher: Plaza & James Translation: Year: 1985 Page: 281 p; 18 cm
Language: Japanese Title: Za Di-pu Publisher: Hayakawa Shobo Translation: Year: 1976 Page: 250 p; 20 cm
Language: Chinese Title: Shen Publisher: Huang Kuan Ch'u Pan She Translation: Year: 1976 Page: 271 p; 19 cm
Language: Italian Title: Abissi Publisher: Mondadori Translation: Year: 1976 Page: 331 p; 21 cm
Language: Portuguese Title: Abismo Publisher: Editorial Pomaire Translation: Year: 1977 Page: 285 p; 20 cm
Language: German Title: Das Riff Publisher: Ullstein Translation: Year: 1977 Page: 255 p; 22 cm
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
The novel was never published in a serilaized format.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
There were no sequels or prequels to the novel.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
(please see entry for Jaws for biographical overview of Peter Benchley) Following the success of both the novel and movie Jaws, Benchley began work on his second novel for Doubleday. For his novel, The Deep, Benchley drew upon his experiences as a freelance writer. While freelancing in the late sixties, Benchley traveled to places all over the world including Nantucket. Palm Springs, Central America and New Zealand. He took a trip to Bermuda in order to research a story for National Geographic. He spent a month in Bermuda diving for sunken ships in order to write his feature for National Geographic. This experience helped Benchley to write his novel about a couple on their honeymoon in Bermuda who go diving and find a sunken ship. Based on the success of Jaws, Doubleday sold the rights for The Deep for an even greater profit than they had on Jaws. Before the novel was published, Columbia Pictures purchased the movie rights for $350,000. Doubleday even earned a percentage of the profits from the movie release. Bantam Books purchased the paperback rights for an estimated $1,500,000. Although commercial expectations were high for the novel, the critical reception of The Deep was similar to Jaws. Benchley would eventually go on to write the screenplay for the film with help from Tracy Keenan Wynn. The Deep opened in theaters in 1977. At the time The Deep was published, Benchley was living in a $150,000 house in Princeton, New Jersey with his wife Wendy, daughter Tracey and his son Clayton. Benchley is described as being "A disciplined writer, he works from 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and then refreshes himself by playing a game of tennis or by going scuba diving" (Current Biography). Benchley's physical characteristics are described as being "big, rangy, athletic and perpetually collegiate looking" (Current Biography). In 1975, when asked how the sudden financial success had affected his lifestyle, Benchley answered, "I don't live high and I don't want to. What it has given me is freedom to work for myself" (People). Benchley is currently managed by International Creative Management, 40 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019. Works Cited Current Biography Yearbook 1976 People Magazine November 24, 1975
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Peter Benchley followed up his huge commercial success, Jaws, with his second major novel The Deep. Much of the criticism of The Deep marks its comparisons and contrasts to Jaws. Yachting states, "How do you fol
low up a stupendous success like 'Jaws'? Stick to the same element with another melodramatic plot, though this time instead of a poor man's 'Moby Dick' about the surface chase of a monster, Benchley uses his considerable knowledge of diving to take
the plot underwater". While Jaws concentrated its dangers in the form of a great white shark, Benchley uses humans as well as undersea creatures as the fixtures of danger in The Deep.
While riding on the crest of the wave of success created by the shark in Jaws, many critics criticized The Deep because it did not resemble Benchley's earlier work. "This is no son of Jaws, with only a bit appearance by Percy, a giant moray eel; the mos
t sinister creatures in this deep are two-legged ones. And lacking the somewhat supernatural presence of a killer beast, this book also lacks the bite of Benchley's earlier work" writes Michele Leber. Benchley's novel is written solely for entertainme
nt purposes, but since it does not include a terrifying beast to control the thoughts and imagination of its readers, The Deep falls short of containing the characteristics needed to become an enormous commercial success. "For primitive thrills, a man-ea
ting shark gobbling bathers off the summer beaches of Long Island beats sunken Bermudan treasure six ways to Sunday" states Newsweek. Critics noted the impossibility of Benchley being able to recreate a novel like Jaws. Contemporary Review states, "It i
s not an easy matter to follow up a phenomenal success such as Peter Benchley enjoyed with his best selling novel, Jaws, and it cannot honestly be said that The Deep is in the same class."
Critics also note how in some ways The Deep outshines its predecessor. Paul Gray writes, "The Deep is a better book-more cleverly plotted, less awkward when it ventures on dry land." While lacking in the horror factor that propelled Jaws to success, The
Deep is a cleaner and better-written novel. The novel obviously shows that it is not a first-time attempt for the author. Instead of relying on the novelty of a shark to carry the story, The Deep has a more defined plot with clearer story lines and a l
ess fragmented flow of events.
Another criticism of the novel is the standard nature of the characters Benchley creates. Readers had become knowledgeable of the middle aged successful man who leaves his former life behind for action and adventure. Gene Lyons states, "Anyone who reads
much contemporary fiction, 'serious' and otherwise, has encountered characters like David Saunders with increasing frequency". The conflict between David Saunders and Henri Cloche follows the pattern of white versus black as the typical struggle of go
od versus evil. "The human heavies in this novel-a sinister black revolutionary and a traitor concealed amongst the good guys-are a conventional lot whose machinations pale beside the menace of a slow-cruising shark" states Newsweek.
Overall the critics agree that The Deep is good entertainment and worthy of a relaxing read. Gene Lyons states, "The only readers who will not read this novel through to the end would never dream of picking it up at all". Benchley sets out to entertain
his audience with this novel and while critics note the novel's shortcomings; it fulfills the readers' desire for an adventurous escape from reality.
Sources Yachting Nov. 1976 pg. 100 Library Journal Apr. 15 Contemporary Review Oct. 1976 Newsweek May 10, 1976 pg. 109 Time May 17, 1976 pg. 80 New York Times Book Review May 16, 1976 pg. 8
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Peter Benchley followed up his huge commercial success, Jaws, with his second major novel The Deep. Much of the criticism of The Deep marks its comparisons and contrasts to Jaws. Yachting states, "How do you fol
low up a stupendous success like 'Jaws'? Stick to the same element with another melodramatic plot, though this time instead of a poor man's 'Moby Dick' about the surface chase of a monster, Benchley uses his considerable knowledge of diving to take
the plot underwater". While Jaws concentrated its dangers in the form of a great white shark, Benchley uses humans as well as undersea creatures as the fixtures of danger in The Deep.
While riding on the crest of the wave of success created by the shark in Jaws, many critics criticized The Deep because it did not resemble Benchley's earlier work. "This is no son of Jaws, with only a bit appearance by Percy, a giant moray eel; the mos
t sinister creatures in this deep are two-legged ones. And lacking the somewhat supernatural presence of a killer beast, this book also lacks the bite of Benchley's earlier work" writes Michele Leber. Benchley's novel is written solely for entertainme
nt purposes, but since it does not include a terrifying beast to control the thoughts and imagination of its readers, The Deep falls short of containing the characteristics needed to become an enormous commercial success. "For primitive thrills, a man-ea
ting shark gobbling bathers off the summer beaches of Long Island beats sunken Bermudan treasure six ways to Sunday" states Newsweek. Critics noted the impossibility of Benchley being able to recreate a novel like Jaws. Contemporary Review states, "It i
s not an easy matter to follow up a phenomenal success such as Peter Benchley enjoyed with his best selling novel, Jaws, and it cannot honestly be said that The Deep is in the same class."
Critics also note how in some ways The Deep outshines its predecessor. Paul Gray writes, "The Deep is a better book-more cleverly plotted, less awkward when it ventures on dry land." While lacking in the horror factor that propelled Jaws to success, The
Deep is a cleaner and better-written novel. The novel obviously shows that it is not a first-time attempt for the author. Instead of relying on the novelty of a shark to carry the story, The Deep has a more defined plot with clearer story lines and a l
ess fragmented flow of events.
Another criticism of the novel is the standard nature of the characters Benchley creates. Readers had become knowledgeable of the middle aged successful man who leaves his former life behind for action and adventure. Gene Lyons states, "Anyone who reads
much contemporary fiction, 'serious' and otherwise, has encountered characters like David Saunders with increasing frequency". The conflict between David Saunders and Henri Cloche follows the pattern of white versus black as the typical struggle of go
od versus evil. "The human heavies in this novel-a sinister black revolutionary and a traitor concealed amongst the good guys-are a conventional lot whose machinations pale beside the menace of a slow-cruising shark" states Newsweek.
Overall the critics agree that The Deep is good entertainment and worthy of a relaxing read. Gene Lyons states, "The only readers who will not read this novel through to the end would never dream of picking it up at all". Benchley sets out to entertain
his audience with this novel and while critics note the novel's shortcomings; it fulfills the readers' desire for an adventurous escape from reality.
Sources Yachting Nov. 1976 pg. 100 Library Journal Apr. 15 Contemporary Review Oct. 1976 Newsweek May 10, 1976 pg. 109 Time May 17, 1976 pg. 80 New York Times Book Review May 16, 1976 pg. 8
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Peter Benchley made his second trip to the best seller list in two years with his second novel The Deep. This novel follows in the path of the enormous novel, movie and paraphernalia success of Benchley's first
novel Jaws. Benchley deviates from the concept of Jaws when writing The Deep and strove to make the novel center around human characters instead of a mythically proportioned man-eating shark. While it may be easy to credit the success of The Deep to the
fact that it rode on the coattails of Jaws, a closer examination of the novel reveals that it has many of its own characteristics that propel it onto the best seller list. The Deep did receive a boost from the success of Jaws but Benchley was also able
to incorporate many aspects of fiction into the novel that are found in best sellers. The Deep is a novel embedded in escapism and by examining this element of the novel and the book selling trends of the times, a better understanding can be gained of wh
y this novel became a best seller in 1976.
To simply credit the novelistic merit of the novel would be misleading though. The Deep was able to gain initial popularity because of its status as heir apparent to Jaws. In 1974, the reprint rights for Jaws has been sold to Bantam Books for $575,000.
In addition, $85,000 was received from Reader's Digest, the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Playboy Book Club. The film rights for Jaws were sold for $150,000 and Peter Benchley received and additional $25,000 to write the screenplay. Doubleday ordered
an initial printing of 35,000 copies. Jaws the novel ended up selling over 200,000 copies and the movie made money faster than any motion picture as it grossed nearly $125,000,000 in little over three months. The movie was directed by Steven Speilberg
and its acting core consisted of stars Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw.
Two years later, Benchley had become an enormous success as a popular novelist as well as a viable producer of Hollywood worthy material. This led to an even greater prepublication outlay of money by various interests. Before being published, Columbia P
ictures purchased the rights for The Deep for $350,000. Bantam Books paid an estimated $1,500,000 for the paperback rights to the novel. From looking at these figures, The Deep's potential commercial success was forecasted by all interested parties. W
hile The Deep was able to become a best seller it sold less than copies than Jaws at just over 153,000. The motion picture did not create a national stir like Jaws even though it starred Nick Nolte, Jaqueline Bisset, Robert Shaw and Louis Gossett Jr. Th
e Deep was able to capitalize on the success of Jaws but Benchley's ability to write quality popular fiction enabled the novel to surpass the minimum success that it was guaranteed being Jaws successor.
In addition to the commercial success of Jaws, The Deep also benefited from the conditions of the book market in the year 1976. Daisy Maryles writes, "The performance of hardcover fiction far outdistanced that of last year, when unit sales were below the
norm. At the same time, the mix of novels that placed in the top ten, as well as the runners-up, seems a typical one. Most of them are pleasant escapist entertainment. Most are written by seasoned pros with long track records" (466). The Deep was pub
lished when most popular fiction was purchased because the author was a proven escapist novelist. The purchasing public was buying novels that they knew would provide the escapist fiction they were looking for. Of the top ten novels in the annual best s
eller list in 1976, nine authors were making at least their second appearance on the list. Only Sidney Sheldon, who came in at number ten with A Stranger in the Mirror, makes his first appearance on the best-seller list. In addition to Benchley and Shel
don, the other novelists were Leon Uris, Agatha Christie, Gore Vidal, Jacqueline Susann, Jack Higgins, Kurt Vonnegut, Mary Stewart and Harold Robbins.
There were two notable entries on the non-fiction side that show some of the prevailing social thoughts and issues of 1976. Maryles writes, "Gail Sheehy's treatment of midlife adult crisis in Passages propelled her to the top of best-seller charts" (468
). The male protagonist of the novel, David Sanders has a midlife crisis, which causes him to leave his old life behind in search of the one that he believed in as a youth. Also on the non-fiction best-seller list for the year was Shere Hite's The Hite
Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality. As the women's liberation movement was beginning to hit its full stride, Benchley was wise to include a female character, Gail, who is very independent and adventurous and able to succeed on her own in th
e world. The characters in The Deep reflect some of the man social topics of the time period and for that reason, readers are able to identify with the character in Benchley's novel.
The quality adventure writing of The Deep is what vaulted the novel onto the yearly best seller list. Benchley constructs a tightly woven plot of intrigue and adventures that keeps the reader engaged until the explosive end. While not exceptionally deve
loped, the characters' appeal lies in their being easy to relate to while others capture the attention through their exotic nature. The center of the action is the beautiful island of Bermuda and its surrounding waters. It is on a honeymoon where two n
ormal Americans are thrust into a dangerous world of drugs and sunken treasure where they must fight for their lives amid threats from criminals and from the ocean. The basic outline of the novel is that of an adventure novel interwoven with the tale of
man and a woman who are fed up with the constant battle to acquire materialistic wealth. The success of the novel can be attributed to the fact that this story is an engaging read that allows the reader to escape into a world that cannot be easily entere
d by most of Americans stuck in the daily grind of the capitalistic machine of the 1970's.
David Sanders could be any middle-aged corporate executive whose idea of the world went down the drain when the realities of supporting a family and conforming to the social norm hits home. Gene Lyons writes, "Anyone, who reads much contemporary fiction
has encountered characters like David Sanders with increasing frequency." Since junior high David has believed in two of Thoreau's attitudes put forth in Walden. Peter Benchley writes, "One said, 'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation'; the
other 'I wish to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived'" (58). Throughout his college career Sanders had dreams of j
oining Jacques-Yves Cousteau on aquatic adventures throughout the globe. After losing this dream to the monetary madness of Wall Street, Sanders finds himself married and with two children.
During a trip alone to Club Med, Sanders has a short affair with Gail and when he returns to New York he files for divorce from his wife and begins to see Gail full time. Men and women both can relate to the situation of being stuck in a rut in life and
finally finding a romantic escape that leads them to a life of adventure and passion. Sanders was an idealistic youth who began work at National Geographic magazine expecting adventures all over the world and instead would up being a menial worker who sp
ent all of his time at a desk. The rise of the corporately dominated workplace destroyed the dreams of many that had spent their early adulthood during the late sixties and early seventies. Only two years earlier Joseph Heller's novel of the decadence
and miserable nature of the corporate world, Something Happened, made the annual best seller list. The Deep provides a tale of someone who was able to break out of the corporate stranglehold and strike out into the unknown and along the way find adventur
e in a tropical paradise. Gene Lyons writes, "What one gets from Benchley, I think, is the essence of his commercial genius, is escape. Instead of wallowing among the commonplaces of our culture's self-doubt, Sanders is lucky enough to have An Adventur
e." As corporate executives flew from coast to coast The Deep could take them away from their current state in life and they could lead the life of David Sanders for 300 pages.
David and Gail Sanders form an ideal couple for the career-orientated relationships of the 1970s. David leaves his wife with no concrete commitment from Gail. Benchley writes, "He had neither sought nor been offered a commitment of any kind from Gail.
Though he knew he was in love with her" (65). The relationship that evolves between David and Gail is free of many of the worries of a marital situation. Their relationship is one of carefree love and is the type that would make many married couples env
ious. Only when David's divorce is officially complete do the two lovers decide to marry and spend their honeymoon in Bermuda. They plan to spend their honeymoon scuba diving, the same activity they were doing when they first met. David has been able
to shed his earlier life in order to spend his new life being adventurous with the "vibrantly, viscerally appealing" Gail (63). Readers can live through the life of David and Gail Sanders and escape from the realities of their own surroundings. A housew
ife can suddenly find herself scuba diving below water searching the hull of an ancient shipwreck and evading gun-toting drug dealers instead of thinking about what time she needs to pick the kids up at school or what time she has to be at work.
One of the most engaging and intriguing aspects of the novel, and one that is guaranteed to get the attention of a reader who is trying to make some small fortune in the world, is the search for sunken treasure. While diving and searching for a cargo shi
p for World War II, David and Gail stumble upon a clue as to the treasure-laden Spanish galleon that lay underneath the cargo ship. The 1970's were filled with news stories about millions and millions of dollars of sunken treasure being recovered from a
ll over the world. Readers could easily relate the actual news stories with the fictional plot Benchley that creates. David and Gail no longer have to worry about their monetary worries in life now that they have uncovered an enormous pile of sunken tre
asure. There is an element of the exotic in a hunt for sunken treasure. Most normal humans do not possess the abilities nor resources to go off on a fantastic treasure hunt and the two protagonists of the novel just happen to stumble upon one with the h
elp of the island expert Romer Treece. The three search out the treasure while simultaneously trying to remove ampoules of morphine from the sunken cargo ship. This task brings into the novel the character of the diabolical Henri Cloche.
Cloche's character embodies all the normal conventions used to heighten the sense of evil of a character. He is mysterious and is said to be the son of a powerful voodoo witch. Cloche is the typical underworld boss who is able to run his business throu
gh fear and intimidation. His goons kidnap David and Gail as they ride down the street on their motoscooters. When David questions Treece about Cloche, Treece replies, "He's got a dozen different names. He comes from Haiti, originally. That's the my
th, at least. It's hard to separate fact from fancy about Cloche; he's built himself into a kind of folk hero among island blacks" (93). Cloche turns out to be a politician using drug money to try and overthrow the Bermudan government. The shipment o
f morphine can be synthesized into heroin that Cloche will sell on the streets of America. Cloche threatens David and Gail that if they tell the authorities and run back to New York that he will be able to get to them there as easily as he can get to the
m while they are in Bermuda. David, Gail and Treece band together to stop Cloche's international criminal organization.
Benchley does not leave out the underwater terror in this novel. Instead of the shark that captivated millions of fans and put fear into the world, Benchley uses a giant moral eel named Percy. While not nearly the threat that Jaws was, Percy does pose a
problem for David and Treece because he guards the cave that they morphine is being stored in. There was no way to appease Jaws, but a simple dead fish will keep Percy occupied for some time. In the end though Percy seems to be one of the heroes in the
novel and not one of the bad guys. He comes to the aid of David and Treece by clamping onto one of Cloche's henchmen in the final scenes of the novel.
The novel combines the exotic setting of Bermuda with the element of underwater adventure and danger. Benchley clearly has a comfortable knowledge of the underwater and this is what sets his novel apart from other adventure novels. The underwater elemen
t brings the reader into a world that is seldom seen and does so with details and accuracy. By combining the plot of the underwater saga of the morphine and the sunken treasure with the land plot of a mythic drug lord, Benchley is able to maintain the su
spense throughout the novel
The Deep was guaranteed of initial success commercially because of its predecessor Jaws. The financial data related to the pre-publication sales of paperback and movie rights proves that everyone predicted The Deep to be a blockbuster hit. Benchley was
able to utilize his previous success and turn this novel into one that would be able to reach the best seller list even after the initial hype surrounding the novel fizzled out. The easy to relate to characters as well as the exotic setting action and pl
ot topics enabled The Deep to sell over 150,000 copies. Benchley used his skills to produce a work of popular fiction that would be able to reach a wide audience and one that would be able to keep the readers riveted to the action.
Works Cited:
Benchley, Peter. The Deep. New York: Doubleday & Co: 1976. Lyons, Gene. "The Deep", New York Times Book Review, May 16, 1976. Maryles, Daisy. "Best Sellers of 1976" Bowker Annual, 1977.




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