Crash has received high praise from critics and is considered to be one of Ballard’s best novels. The characters have disturbing psychological problems that seem real. Vaughan, an obsessed scientist, brings the narrator under his influence. He slowly changes the narrator’s character until he shares Vaughan’s obsession with car crashes. The novel presents a fascinating portrayal of sexual obsession combined with hideous abuses of technology.
One of the strongest aspects of the novel is Ballard’s powerful characterization. Each character in Crash, from the narrator to Robert Vaughan to Helen Remington, has a unique and fascinating personality, yet all are united by the bond of obsession and pain. The narrator’s friendship with and admiration of Vaughan seem strange at first, as do his sexual fantasies connected with car crashes. As he writes about Vaughan and describes how he became involved with the scientist, however, readers can understand how the narrator could be changed by Vaughan.
Another fascinating aspect of the narrator’s character is that he is named James Ballard. The connection of author and narrator creates interesting associations; readers might wonder what is fictional and what may be reality. Ballard’s careful blending of fiction and reality also can be seen in his decision to make Elizabeth Taylor, a prominent actress, the focus of Vaughan’s obsession.
At first, it might seem...
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