J. G. Ballard Long Fiction Analysis
J. G. Ballard’s first seven novels can be sorted easily into two groups. The first four are novels of worldwide disaster, while the next three are stories of cruelty and alienation set in the concrete wilderness of contemporary urban society. All of his novels are, however, linked by a concern with the disintegration of civilization; the principal dynamic of his work has been the movement of that disintegration from a (symbolic) global scale, initially to very intimate local scales and then to somewhat broader but still rather claustrophobic communities.
Ballard’s early disaster stories follow a well-established tradition in British imaginative fiction. British science-fiction writers from H. G. Wells to John Wyndham have seemed to be fascinated by the notion of the fragility and vulnerability of the human empire and have produced many careful and clinical descriptions of its fall. The earlier works in this tradition are didactic tales, insisting on the vanity of human wishes and reveling in the idea that when the crunch comes, only the tough will survive. Ballard, in contrast, is quite unconcerned with drawing morals; his disaster stories are not social Darwinist parables or fatalistic accounts of the ultimate futility of human endeavor—although unsympathetic critics have sometimes read them in the latter light—but attempts to reexamine and reevaluate possible strategies of psychological survival in relation to various circumstances, ranging from...
(The entire section is 4523 words.)
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