British and Irish Literature J. G. Ballard
by
Nicholas Ruddick
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0152

Introduction

James Graham Ballard (hereafter J. G. B.), was born in 1930 (d. 2009) into an English expatriate family and raised in the International Settlement, Shanghai, China. His childhood was interrupted by the Japanese invasion of 1937, and in 1943 he and his family were interned by the Japanese. Liberated at the end of WWII, the Ballards relocated to England, where J. G. B. always felt himself to be an outsider. At the Leys School, Cambridge, he began to pursue serious interests in film, aviation, Freudian psychoanalysis, and surrealist art. In 1949, he went to Cambridge University to study medicine, intending to become a psychiatrist. But though fascinated by anatomy, his vocation proved to be literary. Having briefly studied English at the University of London, he enrolled in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and trained for some months in Canada, where he discovered American science fiction magazines. In 1955, he returned to England and married Mary Matthews; they would have a son and two daughters. In 1956, J. G. B. debuted with two stories in British science fiction magazines. Insisting that it was the genre’s task to explore inner—not outer—space, he would become the leading writer of the British New Wave. In 1960, the Ballards moved to Shepperton, a quiet West London suburb, where J. G. B. would live until shortly before his death. In 1962, he published the potboiler The Wind from Nowhere and the acclaimed postapocalyptic novel The Drowned World, and thereafter supported his family through writing. In 1964, his wife died suddenly of pneumonia. Against the expectations of the time, J. G. B. raised his three children alone, never remarrying. During the late 1960s, his fiction began an experimental stage typified by The Atrocity Exhibition (1969) and culminating in Crash (1973), his most controversial novel, which marries sex, violence, and celebrity culture in the urban landscape of the near future, dominated by the automobile. In 1984, he published Empire of the Sun, a quasi-autobiographical novel set in wartime Shanghai. It was warmly received by a general readership, and J. G. B. began to be recognized as one of the leading writers of his time. In his later fiction, J. G. B. continued to explore technological developments and social trends as symptoms of the unconscious psychopathology of Western society. Just before his death, he published an autobiography, Miracles of Life (2008), finding positive meaning in the traumas of his earlier life. The adjective Ballardian has recently entered several dictionaries, suggesting that J. G. B.’s dystopian vision of the trajectory of Western civilization has been highly influential.

Longer Overviews

J. G. B.’s oeuvre, so large, various, and influential on so many areas of contemporary culture, does not lend itself easily to the overview, even when book length. Gasiorek 2005 is probably the best available, though as with Wilson 2017 and especially Luckhurst 1997, the application of poststructuralist literary theory often obscures rather than clarifies the works of a writer whose task was to make manifest what would otherwise remain latent in culture. Other overviews adopt particular perspectives with varying success: Stephenson 1991 an archetypal, Baxter 2009 a surrealist, Francis 2011 a psychological, Paddy 2015 a postcolonial, Oramus 2015 and Tandy 2015 a sociohistorical, and Cord 2017 a political.

  • Baxter, Jeannette. J. G. Ballard’s Surrealist Imagination: Spectacular Authorship. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

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    Argues that J. G. B.’s oeuvre, comparable in its radical vigor to the writings of De Sade and Bataille, constitutes a surrealist-inspired revision of post-WWII history and culture. The subtitle acknowledges, after Guy Debord, that J. G. B. views social reality as colonized by deceptive images. Many monochrome illustrations.

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  • Cord, Florian. J. G. Ballard’s Politics: Late Capitalism, Power, and the Pataphysics of Resistance. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110490718Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Highly theoretical exploration of J. G. B.’s oeuvre as a work of urgent political resistance, as well as an introduction to J. G. B. for a German academic readership, who have so far relatively neglected him. Deals in particular with Crash, Concrete Island, Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes, and Millennial People.

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  • Francis, Samuel. The Psychological Fictions of J. G. Ballard. London: Continuum, 2011.

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    On J. G. B. as a psychological writer who argues for the necessity of a benevolent psychopathology given the current state of Western civilization. Covers those short stories and novels that can be illuminated by exploring J. G. B.’s interest in Freud, Jung, and the antipsychiatry of R. D. Laing in particular.

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  • Gasiorek, Andrzej. J. G. Ballard. Contemporary British Novelists. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2005.

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    The best overview of J. G. B.’s oeuvre to date, though it does not attempt to cover his entire fictional output nor does it have a central thesis. It is intended for the academic market as it is very densely written and studded with references to European theorists. It usefully elucidates J. G. B.’s most difficult works; its chief weakness is a reluctance to gauge aesthetic success.

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  • Luckhurst, Roger. “The Angle between Two Walls”: The Fiction of J. G. Ballard. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.

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    This study is above all concerned with the way that J. G. B.’s fiction seems to fluctuate generically. As its method is to connect the oeuvre to contemporary theorists that J. G. B. had no affinity with, the result disappoints. But chapter 1 is a searching attempt to explain why science fiction as a genre failed ambitious authors like J. G. B. who worked within it.

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  • Oramus, Dominika. Grave New World: The Decline of the West in the Fiction of J. G. Ballard. Toronto: Terminal Press, 2015.

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    Offers close readings of J. G. B.’s fiction as a register of the decline since WWII of Western civilization into a postapocalyptic state (though many do not realize it). J. G. B. is read in the context of sociologists and historians such as Toffler, Fukuyama, Baudrillard, Spengler, Toynbee, et al.

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  • Paddy, David Ian. The Empires of J. G. Ballard: An Imagined Geography. SF Story Worlds: Critical Studies in Science Fiction. Canterbury, UK: Gylphi, 2015.

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    A lucid study mapping J. G. B.’s oeuvre as a critique of imperialism and its post-WWII legacy, beginning with his boyhood reading, his experience of colonial Shanghai, and his affinity with deracinated novelists like Graham Greene who rejected parochial Englishness. Familiar with the J. G. B. papers in the British Library and strong on intertextual relations.

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  • Stephenson, Gregory. Out of the Night and into the Dream: A Thematic Study of the Fiction of J. G. Ballard. Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy 47. New York: Greenwood, 1991.

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    Monograph surveying J. G. B.’s fiction through Running Wild, informed by archetypal perspectives. The argument is clearly presented, though the identification of J. G. B. as a transcendentalist seeking authentic being in a world of illusion leads to some strained readings.

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  • Tandy, Pippa. “Writing World War III: J. G. Ballard’s Field Guide to the Cold War.” In Deep Ends: The J. G. Ballard Anthology 2015. Edited by Rick McGrath, 178–294, Toronto: The Terminal Press, 2015.

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    A monograph-length piece dominating this collection. Divided into nine chapters, it argues that J. G. B.’s oeuvre amounts to a thorough documentary analysis of the technological environment of the Cold War.

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  • Wilson, D. Harlan. J. G. Ballard. Modern Masters of Science Fiction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.5406/j.ctt1x76dhnSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Approaches J. G. B.’s oeuvre from a science fiction perspective. While generally judicious, it never quite attains the clarity of expression to which it aspires, and will appeal to the academic more than the general reader. Engages well with existing J. G. B. criticism and contains a useful bibliography of secondary sources.

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Shorter Overviews

Pringle 1979 remains the best short introduction to J. G. B. for the general reader, but like Brigg 1985, it deals with only a portion of the oeuvre. Delville 1998 is the shorter survey that covers the most ground. Greenland 1983 explores the New Wave context and Ruddick 1993 J. G. B.’s British science fiction antecedents, while Wagar 1991 offers a utopian approach.

  • Brigg, Peter. J. G. Ballard. Starmont Reader’s Guide 26. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1985.

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    A enthusiastic survey of J. G. B.’s fiction through Empire of the Sun without the rigor or contextual depth of Pringle 1979. Best on the short fiction, offering useful summaries and thematic analyses of many of J. G. B.’s earlier stories.

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  • Delville, Michel. J. G. Ballard. Writers and Their Work. Plymouth, UK: Northcote House, 1998.

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    Brief introduction to J. G. B.’s oeuvre from the early short stories through Cocaine Nights, approached from a psychoanalytic perspective and with reference to the cultural context.

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  • Greenland, Colin. “The Works of J. G. Ballard.” In The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British “New Wave” in Science Fiction. By Colin Greenland, 92–120. London: Routledge, 1983.

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    Chapter about J. G. B.’s fiction in the context of the New Wave is heavy on quotations and deals with only a fraction of the oeuvre, but isolates a central paradox: between J. G. B.’s stated intentions and how his works strike the reader.

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  • Pringle, David. Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo, 1979.

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    The first monograph on J. G. B.’s fiction (through The Unlimited Dream Company) remains an excellent short introduction to its strengths and (as importantly) its weaknesses. It lucidly and knowledgeably anatomizes J. G. B.’s influences, themes, style, wit, generic affiliations, and cultural context with judiciousness and sympathy.

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  • Ruddick, Nicholas. Ultimate Island: On the Nature of British Science Fiction. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1993.

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    Two sections of this book (pp. 86–93, 151–171) focus on J. G. B.’s fiction, connecting it closely to the British tradition, descending from H .G. Wells, of science fiction about disasters set on islands.

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  • Wagar, W. Warren. “J. G. Ballard and the Transvaluation of Utopia.” Science Fiction Studies 18.1 (March 1991): 53–70.

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    Reads J. G. B. as a postmodern countercultural utopographer, in whose oeuvre landscapes function as liminal worlds through which humanity, represented by a “utopian cell” (p. 57) of one or more characters, reaches a “kairotic moment” (p. 57) in which it transforms itself and attains salvation.

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Websites

Several fan sites are interesting to the general reader or useful to those with a scholarly interest in J. G. B., or both. Bonsall 2008 is indispensable for students of J. G. B.’s diction, and Bonsall 2017b of J. G. B.’s obiter dicta. McGrath 2009, Sellars 2018, and, to a lesser extent, Bonsall 2017a, all contain material worth exploring at length.

Bibliographies and Reference Works

Bibliographies aiming for completeness now find their natural home online, as they can be easily updated. Two traditionally published bibliographies stand out: Goddard 1970 for its early recognition of the major importance of J. G. B., and Pringle 1984 for its exemplary organization and completeness. Pringle 2009a and Pringle 2009b are useful specialized bibliographies. The most extensive bibliography of secondary sources is Rossi 2018, but it is not complete nor currently up to date. Summary Bibliography: J. G. Ballard is a work in progress. Pringle and Clute 2017 and Self 2017 are entries in trustworthy biographical works.

Collections

Baxter 2009, Baxter and Wymer 2012, and Brown, et al. 2016 are standard collections of academic essays. Livelier are the eclectic collections of Ballardiana, which should not be dismissed as mere fan literature, as they contain some of the most interesting responses to J. G. B. and his work to be found anywhere. This is certainly true of the essential Vale and Juno 1984, of McGrath 2013, McGrath 2014, McGrath 2015, and McGrath 2016, and to a lesser extent, Black 2013. The gallery publication of an homage exhibition to Crash, Ballard 2010, suggests the close mutual interplay between J. G. B. and the visual arts. Goddard and Pringle 1976 is of historical interest.

  • Ballard, J. G. Crash: Homage to J. G. Ballard. London: Gagosian Gallery, 2010.

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    Catalogue raisonné of a London gallery exhibition of artworks by Bacon, Basquiat, Bellmer, de Chirico, and many others in homage to J. G. B.’s Crash. Includes texts by J. G. B., Dawn Ades, and Will Self, and a bibliography by David Pringle. Many images of the artworks in the exhibition can be found online.

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  • Baxter, Jeannette, ed. J. G. Ballard. Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.

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    Collection of eight critical articles on J. G. B., with foreword and afterword by novelist Toby Litt and an interview with J. G. B. by Baxter. Topics covered include the short fiction of the 1960s, The Atrocity Exhibition, Crash, J. G. B.’s cinematic imagination, the Life Trilogy, London, and the later fiction.

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  • Baxter, Jeannette, and Rowland Wymer, eds. J. G. Ballard: Visions and Revisions. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

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    Introduction by the editors sketching the influence of J. G. B. on contemporary arts, followed by thirteen essays approaching J. G. B. from a variety of academic perspectives including form, narrative, sex, the body, London, and psychopathology.

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  • Black, Candice, ed. Terminal Atrocity Zone: Ballard. Sun Vision, 2013.

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    Useful collection of documents relating to1966–1973, the most experimental period in J. G. B.’s career. Includes “Advertiser’s Announcements,” “Coitus 80,” “Journey across a Crater,” and forewords to The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash by J. G. B., two interviews from 1970 and 1973, a transcript of the short BBC film Crash (1971), five essays on J. G. B.’s work produced during this period, and a brief bibliography.

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  • Brown, Richard, Christopher Duffy, and Elizabeth Stainforth, eds. J. G. Ballard: Landscapes of Tomorrow. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Rodopi, 2016.

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    Collection of ten interdisciplinary academic articles on landscape and spatiality in J. G. B.’s fiction. Begins with a short prose poem by J. G. B.’s daughter Fay comparing Shanghai and Shepperton, followed by essays focusing on The Drowned World, Vermilion Sands, “The Dead Astronaut,” The Atrocity Exhibition, Crash, High-Rise, and Kingdom Come.

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  • Goddard, James, and David Pringle, eds. J. G. Ballard: The First Twenty Years. Hayes, UK: Bran’s Head, 1976.

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    Motley, typographically challenged but historically interesting, small-press collection marking J. G. B.’s career through 1976. Includes an introduction by the editors, a long interview of J. G. B. (included in Sellars and O’Hara 2012, cited under Interviews and Conversations), and short essays and reviews by Brian Aldiss, Ian Watson, Michael Moorcock, et al., not all equally celebratory. Concludes with a bibliography of J. G. B.’s writings through 1975.

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  • McGrath, Rick, ed. The J. G. Ballard Book. Toronto: Terminal Press, 2013.

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    Large format, profusely illustrated, eclectic collection of fifteen items. Includes an interview with J. G. B. by David Pringle first published in 1985, a scan of J. G. B.’s handwritten answers in 1970 to James Goddard’s questions, a scan of J. G. B.’s annotations to the interview published in Goddard and Pringle 1976 and Holliday 2013 the important essay on The Atrocity Exhibition (cited under the Atrocity Exhibition), among other pieces.

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  • McGrath, Rick, ed. Deep Ends: The J. G. Ballard Anthology 2014. Toronto: Terminal Press, 2014.

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    Large format, profusely illustrated, eclectic collection of twenty-four items. Particularly valuable for its biographical contributions by J. G. B.’s daughters Beatrice Ballard and Fay Ballard (see interview of Fay Ballard in Pringle 2014, cited under Biography, Memoirs, Obituaries, and Related Writings) and by Raymond Tait. Includes pieces by Iain Sinclair, D. Harlan Wilson, Umberto Rossi, Dominika Oramus, Peter Brigg, et al.

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  • McGrath, Rick, ed. Deep Ends: The J. G. Ballard Anthology 2015. Toronto: Terminal Press, 2015.

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    Large format, profusely illustrated, eclectic collection of seventeen items, one of the best so far in McGrath’s annual series. Includes the important pieces Pringle 2015(cited under Biography, Memoirs, Obituaries, and Related Writings), Beckett 2015 (cited under Articles on Individual Works: Crash), Baxter 2012 (cited under a User’s Guide to the Millennium), and Tandy 2015 (cited under Longer Overviews), and a fine set of Ballardian monochrome photographs of Las Vegas by Ana Barrado.

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  • McGrath, Rick, ed. Deep Ends: The J. G. Ballard Anthology 2016. Toronto: Terminal Press, 2016.

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    Large format, profusely illustrated, eclectic collection of twenty-seven items. Includes pieces by J. G. B.’s two daughters, the continuation of Pringle’s chronology through 1965, and essays by Chris Beckett, David Ian Paddy, Andrew Wenaus, Paul March-Russell, et al.

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  • Vale, V., and Andrea Juno, eds. Re/Search 8/9: J. G. Ballard. San Francisco: RE/Search Publishing, 1984.

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    A potpourri in large-format paperback that constitutes still the best homage on paper to J. G. B. and his universe. Contains three major interviews, samples of avant-garde fiction and nonfiction by J. G. B., Pringle’s biographical piece “From Shanghai to Shepperton,” criticism by Pringle and others, the “Advertiser’s Announcements” collages, quotations by J. G. B., a bibliography, and the early manifesto “What I Believe” by J. G. B. Illustrated with many well-chosen monochrome photographs.

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Interviews and Conversations

J. G. B. found the interview situation valuable when it came to articulating his views to both his readership and himself. A majority of the more than 350 interviews over the course of J. G. B.’s lifetime are highly readable, informative, and witty, even though J. G. B. inevitably repeats himself in those recorded in temporal proximity. The essential edited collection is Sellars and O’Hara 2012, closely followed by the edited Vale 2005. Amis 1984 is interesting for the two personalities involved, Burns 1981 for J. G. B.’s comments on his most experimental works, Di Filippo 1991 for its quotability, Paolozzi 1971 for J. G. B.’s preferences in the visual arts, Platt 1980 for its science fiction context, while Shone 1997 will be of particular interest to American readers.

Ballard in Audiovisual Media

J. G. B. was as engaging and articulate on audiotape and screen as he was on paper. Several radio and TV portraits and interviews with him were made, of which the following are among the most interesting. Runcie 1991 is perhaps the best, though Bragg 2006, Chu 2001, Hoffman 1984, and Scoggins 1983 all have illuminating moments. Lawley 1992, a radio interview, is a key moment in J. G. B.’s elevation to British national treasure.

Ballard on Ballard

This section offers a sample of J. G. B.’s nonfictional writings about his work and his life. The essential collection of J. G. B.’s shorter nonfictional writings is Ballard 1997, while Ballard 2008 is the definitive longer autobiographical work. Vale and Ryan 2004 is an absorbing collection of J. G. B.’s wit and wisdom. Ballard 1990 is valuable for its annotations; Ballard 1991 should serve as a caution to overenthusiastic literary theorists; and Ballard 2006 is a timely reminder of J. G. B.’s great respect for film.

Biography, Memoirs, Obituaries, and Related Writings

The most knowledgeable and trustworthy of J. G. B. biographers is David Pringle, sometimes described as J. G. B.’s archivist: his chronology in McGrath 2015 and McGrath 2016 (and ongoing; both cited under Collections) offers important bio-historical data. Baxter 2011 is the only book-length biography to date, but its objectivity is highly questionable, especially in light of the subsequent memoirs by J. G. B.’s daughters Bea Ballard 2014 and Pringle 2014. Tait 2014 details J. G. B.’s high school days. Moorcock 1986 may be the best key to understanding J. G. B.’s attitude to the United States, while Sante 1990 explains J. G. B. to Americans. Self 2009 is a tribute to how J. G. B.’s imagination could fire that of a younger writer. The obituaries by Clute 2009 and Pringle 2009 gauge J. G. B.’s cultural significance at the time of his death.

General Critical Articles

A selection of shorter pieces chosen for their prescience in gauging J. G. B.’s importance (Aldiss 1971, Perry and Wilkie 1970), the eminence of their authors (Carter 1997, Gray 1999, Johnson 2008), the new insights they offer into J. G. B.’s life and art (Beckett 2011, Foster 1993, Pringle 1993), and the politics determining their responses (Dalrymple 2008, Franklin 1979).

Articles on Individual Works: Crash

Academic criticism on J. G. B. is dominated by writing about Crash. Holliday 2017 is an excellent exploration of the work’s origin. Those wishing to familiarize themselves with the central debate might begin with the issue of Science Fiction Studies containing Baudrillard 1991, Hayles 1991, Sobchack 1991, and other essays, then read Ruddick 1992, Butterfield 1999, and Day 2000. Baxter 2008 reveals an unexpected influence on Crash, Beckett 2015 is a valuable manuscript study, and Luckhurst 2008 a measured overview of the critical responses to that date.

Articles on Other Individual Works

This section offers a small selection of some of the most interesting, narrowly focused analyses of J. G. B.’s oeuvre aside from Crash.

The Atrocity Exhibition

Holliday 2013 is perhaps the most useful introduction to J. G. B.’s most difficult work.

  • Holliday, Mike. “Desperate Measures: A History of The Atrocity Exhibition.” In The J. G. Ballard Book. Edited by Rick McGrath, 104–113. Toronto: Terminal Press, 2013.

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    Illuminates the biographical context of J. G. B.’s most experimental work and identifies those fictions that are precursory. Includes a short selected primary bibliography.

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The Drowned World

McCarthy 1997 and Rose 1991 illuminate J. G. B.’s first major novel from mainstream and science-fictional perspectives respectively.

  • McCarthy, Patrick A. “Allusions in Ballard’s The Drowned World.” Science Fiction Studies 24.2 (July 1997): 302–310.

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    An analysis of the literary allusions in The Drowned World that reveals that J. G. B. is, in spite of his claims to the contrary, not only a literary man but also well-versed in the modernist techniques of ironic allusion.

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  • Rose, Mark. Alien Encounters: Anatomy of Science Fiction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

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    Pages 127–138 provide an analysis of The Drowned World as metaphorical time travel into the deep past in the context of a chapter on time in science fiction.

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High-Rise

Amis 1999 offers an unexpected perspective on High-Rise by a major contemporary novelist.

Running Wild

Baxter 2007 argues strongly for the influence of surrealism even on one of J. G. B.’s most apparently realistic works.

Short Fiction

Lewis 2008 and Rossi 2009 are fine treatments of J. G. B.’s large but relatively critically neglected body of short fiction.

  • Lewis, Mitchell R. “J. G. Ballard: Psychopathology, Apocalypse, and the Media Landscape.” In A Companion to the British and Irish Short Story. Edited by Cheryl Alexander Malcolm and David Malcolm, 516–523. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

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    J. G. B.’s most notable short fiction as the product of a psychoanalytic cultural critic seeking to reveal the latent content of the contemporary physical and media landscapes.

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  • Rossi, Umberto. “A Little Something about Dead Astronauts.” Science Fiction Studies 36.1 (March 2009): 101–120.

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    Focusing on five shorter fictions, “The Cage of Sand,” “A Question of Re-Entry,” “The Dead Astronaut,” “Notes toward a Mental Breakdown,” and “Memories of the Space Age,” the piece uses historical and mythological references to explore J. G. B.’s fascination with the motif of the dead astronaut. Offers insights into the significance of J. G. B.’s choice of inner over outer space as a central theme.

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The Ultimate City

Rossi 2009 belies J. G. B.’s claim not to be a literary man.

  • Rossi, Umberto. “Shakespearean Reincarnations: An Intertextual Reading of J. G. Ballard’s ‘The Ultimate City’.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 20.3 (2009): 363–384.

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    After summarizing J. G. B.’s objections to participation in the literary tradition, Rossi explains why J. G. B. attempted to rewrite, in this novelette, one of its great monuments, namely Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

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A User’s Guide to the Millennium

Baxter 2012 reminds us that J. G. B.’s nonfiction is a significant body of work worthy of critical attention in itself.

War Fever

Carter 1990 is a homage by one great writer of fantastic fiction to another, illuminating the achievement of both.

  • Carter, Angela. “Surreal Visions and Obsessions: [Review of] War Fever by J. G. Ballard.” Manchester Guardian Weekly, 2 December 1990: 29.

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    “There is always that sense, present in everything J. G. Ballard writes, of a unique and profoundly original mind discussing with itself pressing questions about the nature of our species’ experience on this planet” (p. 29).

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Film Adaptations

There have been several audiovisual adaptations of J. G. B. works, of which the most notable to date are the feature films Empire of the Sun (1987) directed by Steven Spielberg, Crash (1996) by David Cronenberg, and High-Rise (2015) by Ben Wheatley. The Spielberg film is a masterpiece, but Cronenberg’s controversial adaptation has dominated writing on J. G. B. remediated to film. Those interested in the process of adapting Crash to film might begin with the Cronenberg 1996 screenplay, the Rodley 1996 interview, the Hultkrans 1997 double interview, the Sinclair 1999 monograph, and the relevant chapter in Ruddick 2016; then read the analyses in Harpold 1997 and Brottman and Sharrett 2002. For more on adapting High-Rise, see Butt 2016, and for the other features, see McCalmont 2009.

  • Brottman, Mikita, and Christopher Sharrett. “The End of the Road: David Cronenberg’s Crash and the Fading of the West.” Literature/Film Quarterly 30.2 (2002): 126–132.

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    How Cronenberg subverts the classical road movie so as to adapt J. G. B.’s novel effectively.

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  • Butt, Amy. “Between the Image and the Building: An Architectural Tour of High-Rise.” In Special Issue: Ben Wheatley, J. G. Ballard, and High-Rise. Critical Quarterly 58.1 (April 2016): 76–83.

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    This article by an architect is perhaps the best of those essays in a special edition of Critical Quarterly focused on Wheatley’s unsatisfactory 2015 film adaptation of High-Rise. Butt draws an interesting contrast between J. G. B.’s and Wheatley’s presentation of the building.

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  • Cronenberg, David. Crash. London: Faber, 1996.

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    Laconic screenplay of the film (which won a Special Jury Prize at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival) adapted from J. G. B.’s supposedly unfilmable novel. Preceded by an abridged interview by Chris Rodley with Cronenberg about adapting J. G. B.

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  • Harpold, Terry. “Dry Leatherette: Cronenberg’s Crash.” Postmodern Culture: An Electronic Journal of Interdisciplinary Criticism 7.3 (May 1997).

    DOI: 10.1353/pmc.1997.0026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A negative but thoughtful review of Cronenberg’s film, concluding that the adaptation to the popular visual medium must work by indirection, thereby losing the bite of J. G. B.’s catalogue of abjection.

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  • Hultkrans, Andrew. “Body Work: Andrew Hultkrans Talks with J. G. Ballard and David Cronenberg.” Artforum 35.7 (1997): 76–81, 118.

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    Preface by Hultkrans, short interview with J. G. B., and longer one with Cronenberg, on the release of the film of Crash. Inter alia, J. G. B. recalls his original intent in writing Crash.

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  • McCalmont, Jonathan. “A Benign Psychopathology: The Films of J. G. Ballard.” Vector: The Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association 261 (Autumn 2009): 12–16.

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    Deals with Jonathan Weiss’s The Atrocity Exhibition (2000) and Harley Cokliss’s Crash! (1971) as well as with the better-known Spielberg and Cronenberg film adaptations.

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  • Rodley, Chris. “Crash: David Cronenberg Talks about His New Film Crash Based on J. G. Ballard’s Disturbing Techno-Sex Novel.” Sight and Sound 6.6 (1996): 7–11.

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    One of the most revealing interviews with the filmmaker, who notes that his film “is a lovely fusion of me and Ballard. We’re so amazingly in synch” (p. 8). See also pp. 328–338 of Sellars and O’Hara 2012 (cited under Interviews and Conversations).

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  • Ruddick, Nicholas. New Wave SF: J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973) > Crash (David Cronenberg, 1996). SF Story Worlds: Critical Studies in Science Fiction. Canterbury, UK: Gylphi, 2016.

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    Chapter discussing the relation between Crash and its film adaptation by Cronenberg, and concluding that the film is successful but that translation of the novel from a textual to a primarily visual medium almost inevitably produces a lesser artistic achievement.

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  • Sinclair, Iain. Crash: David Cronenberg’s Post-Mortem on J. G. Ballard’s “Trajectory of Fate.” BFI Modern Classics. London: British Film Institute, 1999.

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    Short illustrated monograph ostensibly celebrating Cronenberg’s film adaptation of Crash as a modern classic, but actually about Sinclair’s vexed relationship with everything Ballardian. A readable but disingenuous work, centered on Sinclair’s long interview with J. G. B. (which appears excerpted here, but in full in Sellars and O’Hara 2012 cited under Interviews and Conversations).

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