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Come in no. 27, your time is up

Author: • Jan 6th, 2008 •

Category: Ballardosphere, celebrity culture, David Cronenberg, Jean Baudrillard

The Times has a list of the Greatest British Writers Since 1945.

Ballard’s in there at no.25 no. 27, where he is appraised like so:

With Empire of the Sun (1984), the fictionalised account of his adolescence in a Second World War Japanese prison camp, Ballard found the wide readership denied to his earlier novels. In the Ballard canon, Empire feels like a sobering glass of water next to a row of hallucinogenic drug cocktails, yet it shares one theme with his second most famous book, Crash, filmed by David Kronenberg [sic] in 1996: the sexualised fetishisation of technology. Literary circles view his blend of dystopian science fiction and modern sociology with suspicion, but Ballard’s impact on wider culture has been immense: The Atrocity Exhibition influenced Joy Division’s album Closer, and Radiohead and Klaxxons [sic] have championed his work. The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, enthused by more than just the likeness of their names, hailed Crash as the first great postmodern novel.

One to read: Crash (1973)

Aside from the misspelling of ‘Cronenberg’ and ‘Klaxons’, one thing baffles me: Where exactly does Empire of the Sun deal with ‘the sexualised fetishisation of technology’?

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7 Responses »

  1. He’s actually at #27.. sorry!

    That said, that’s one sloppy piece of writing you’ve highlighted there. Not what I’d expect of The Times. The whole list seems a little bogus to me though; Philip Larkin at #1? Rowling at #42? I don’t know.

  2. Thanks, Peter. I’ve changed the post accordingly. It’s an immutable law of the universe that when you are highlighting mistakes in other people’s writing, you will surely make one of your own.

    All the same, I’d still like to know where this ‘sexual fetishising of technology’ occurs in Empire. Any clues? The writer also seems to make the mistake of equating the book with ‘realism’. I find it as ‘hallucinatory’ as any of his novels.

  3. Funny that dreary Anita Brookner is below Ballard in the list yet they recommend her novel which beat Empire for the Booker.

    Larkin at no. 1? Bollocks to that.

  4. Best I can come up with is Jim’s fascination with the wrecked Zero. The airplane as phallic symbol? I’m trying.

  5. H-bomb as sexual climax?

  6. Chuck, you give the Times too much credit…

  7. I’d put Ballard among the top ten.
    But, either way, the Time’s guy doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about – I found this text a bit strange. Did he ever read any of Ballard’s early novels?

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