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Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. The Psychological Fictions of J. Description J. Ballard self-professedly 'devoured' the work of Freud as a teenager, and entertained early thoughts of becoming a psychiatrist; he opened his novel-writing career with a manifesto declaring his wish to write a science fiction exploring not outer but 'inner space', and declaring the need for contemporary fiction to be viewed 'as a branch of neurology'.

He also apparently welcomed a reader's report on Crash condemning him as 'beyond psychiatric help' as confirming his achievement of 'total artistic success'.


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Samuel Francis investigates Ballard's engagement with psychology and the psychological in his fiction, tracing the influence of key figures including Sigmund Freud, C. Jung and R. Laing and placing his work in the context of the wider fields of psychology and psychiatry.

While the psychological preoccupations of his writing are very clear - including his use of concepts such as the unconscious, psychopathology, 'deviance', obsession, abnormal psychology and schizophrenia - this is the first book to offer a detailed analysis of this key conceptual and historical context for his fiction. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions Other books in this series. Ballard Samuel T. Add to basket. In early , they began to intern Allied civilians, and Ballard was sent to the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center with his parents and younger sister.

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He spent over two years, the remainder of World War II, in the internment camp. His family lived in a small area in G block, a two-story residence for 40 families. He attended school in the camp, the teachers being camp inmates from a number of professions. As he explained later in his autobiography Miracles of Life , these experiences formed the basis of Empire of the Sun , although Ballard exercised considerable artistic licence in writing the book, such as the removal of his parents from the bulk of the story.

It has been supposed that Ballard's exposure to the atrocities of war at an impressionable age explains the apocalyptic and violent nature of much of his fiction. The reassuring stage set that everyday reality in the suburban west presents to us is torn down; you see the ragged scaffolding, and then you see the truth beyond that, and it can be a frightening experience. In late , after the end of the war, his mother returned to Britain with Ballard and his sister on the SS Arawa. In he went on to study medicine at King's College, Cambridge , with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist.

At university, Ballard was writing avant-garde fiction heavily influenced by psychoanalysis and surrealist painters. At this time, he wanted to become a writer as well as pursue a medical career. In May , when Ballard was in his second year at Cambridge, his short story "The Violent Noon", [19] a Hemingwayesque pastiche written to please the contest's jury, won a crime story competition and was published in the student newspaper Varsity. Encouraged by the publication of his story and realising that clinical medicine would not leave him time to write, Ballard abandoned his medical studies, and in October he enrolled at Queen Mary College to read English Literature.

Ballard then worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency [21] and as an encyclopaedia salesman. There he discovered science fiction in American magazines.

The Psychological Fictions of J.G. Ballard (Continuum Literary Studies)

The story did not see publication until Ballard left the RAF in after thirteen months and returned to England. He made his science fiction debut in with two short stories, "Escapement" and "Prima Belladonna", [24] published in the December issues of New Worlds and Science Fantasy respectively.

The editor of New Worlds , Edward J. Carnell , would remain an important supporter of Ballard's writing and would publish nearly all of his early stories. From Ballard worked as assistant editor on the scientific journal Chemistry and Industry.

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Ballard's avant-garde inclinations did not sit comfortably in the science fiction mainstream of that time, which held attitudes he considered philistine. Briefly attending the Science Fiction Convention in London, Ballard left disillusioned and demoralised [26] and did not write another story for a year. By the late s, however, he had become an editor of the avant-garde Ambit magazine, [27] which was more in keeping with his aesthetic ideals.

In Ballard moved with his family to the middle-class London suburb of Shepperton in Surrey, where he lived for the rest of his life and which would later give rise to his moniker as the "Seer of Shepperton". He wrote his first novel, The Wind from Nowhere , over a two-week holiday simply to gain a foothold as a professional writer, not intending it as a "serious novel"; in books published later, it is omitted from the list of his works. When it was successfully published in January , he resigned from his job at Chemistry and Industry , and from then on supported himself and his family as a writer.

Later that year his second novel, The Drowned World , was published, establishing Ballard as a notable figure in the fledgling New Wave movement of science fiction. Collections of his stories started getting published, and he began a period of great literary productivity, while pushing to expand the scope of acceptable material for science fiction with such stories as " The Terminal Beach ". In Ballard's wife Mary died suddenly of pneumonia, leaving him to raise their three children—James, Fay and Bea Ballard —by himself.

After the profound shock of his wife's death, Ballard began in to write the stories that became The Atrocity Exhibition , while continuing to produce stories within the science fiction genre. Aldiss , Roger Zelazny , and Samuel R. Delany as "an earthshaking new kind of" writers, and leaders of the New Wave. It remains one of his iconic works, and was filmed in A chapter of The Atrocity Exhibition is titled "Crash! The crashed vehicles were displayed without commentary, inspiring vitriolic responses and vandalism.

His fascination with the topic culminated in the novel Crash in The main character of Crash is called James Ballard and lives in Shepperton, though other biographical details do not match the writer, and curiosity about the relationship between the character and his author increased when Ballard suffered a serious automobile accident shortly after completing the novel. Regardless of real-life basis, Crash , like The Atrocity Exhibition , was also controversial upon publication. Although Ballard published several novels and short story collections throughout the seventies and eighties, his breakthrough into the mainstream came only with Empire of the Sun in , based on his years in Shanghai and the Lunghua internment camp.

J G Ballard: Books about Ballard

Ballard himself appears briefly in the film, and he has described the experience of seeing his childhood memories reenacted and reinterpreted as bizarre. Ballard continued to write until the end of his life, and also contributed occasional journalism and criticism to the British press. Of his later novels, Super-Cannes was particularly well received, [43] winning the regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

The last of his books published in his lifetime was the autobiography Miracles of Life , written after his diagnosis. It was reproduced in The Guardian on 25 April The physician in question is oncologist Professor Jonathan Waxman of Imperial College , London, who was treating Ballard for prostate cancer. While it was to be in part a book about cancer, and Ballard's struggle with it, it reportedly was to move on to broader themes.

In April The Guardian reported that HarperCollins announced that Ballard's Conversations with My Physician could not be finished and plans to publish it were abandoned. In June the British Library acquired Ballard's personal archives under the British government's acceptance in lieu scheme for death duties. The archive contains eighteen holograph manuscripts for Ballard's novels, including the page manuscript for Empire of the Sun , plus correspondence, notebooks, and photographs from throughout his life. With the exception of his autobiographical novels, Ballard most commonly wrote in the post-apocalyptic dystopia genre.

His most celebrated novel in this regard is Crash , in which cars symbolise the mechanisation of the world and man's capacity to destroy himself with the technology he creates. The characters the protagonist, called Ballard, included become increasingly obsessed with the violent psychosexuality of car crashes in general, and celebrity car crashes in particular. Ballard's disturbing novel was turned into a controversial—and likewise disturbing—cerebral film by David Cronenberg.

Particularly revered among Ballard's admirers is his short story collection Vermilion Sands , set in an eponymous desert resort town inhabited by forgotten starlets, insane heirs, very eccentric artists, and the merchants and bizarre servants who provide for them. Each story features peculiarly exotic technology such as cloud-carving sculptors performing for a party of eccentric onlookers, poetry-composing computers, orchids with operatic voices and egos to match, phototropic self-painting canvases, etc.

In keeping with Ballard's central themes, most notably technologically-mediated masochism, these tawdry and weird technologies service the dark and hidden desires and schemes of the human castaways who occupy Vermilion Sands, typically with psychologically grotesque and physically fatal results. In his introduction to Vermilion Sands , Ballard cites this as his favourite collection. In a similar vein, his collection Memories of the Space Age explores many varieties of individual and collective psychological fallout from—and initial deep archetypal motivations for—the American space exploration boom of the s and s.

Commentators such as Will Self have described much of his fiction as being concerned with 'idealised gated communities; the affluent, and the ennui of affluence [where] the virtualised world is concretised in the shape of these gated developments.