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On First Reading J. G. Ballard’s Concrete Island & Empire of the Sun

January 17, 2012 David Hurley 0

This is an essay about the British novelist J. G. Ballard (1930-2009), which I wrote in York, back in 1988.

Looking over the essay now, I notice not only the influence of the Marxist school of literary criticism, which for me had commenced with Raymond Williams and culminated in a reading of Terry Eagleton‘s The Function of Criticism (1984), but also the ingrained Jacobean biblical sensibility that I regard as every Briton’s birthright, across which the sensibility of Chinese philosophy casts a glancing light.

The concrete island onto which Maitland crashes is the objective-corellative of his psyche – of the isolation of the human spirit, the alienation inherent in bourgeois society. “I am the island,” he cries at the end of the ninth chapter, confirming that the need to explore and identify this terrain is as important as the apparant need to escape from it… Continue


J. G. Ballard
J. G. Ballard