J.G. Ballard, Crash

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  • Intro

    J.G. Ballard’s novel, Crash, which was published in 1973, explores the idea of perversion (and possible liberation) in the collision of technology and eroticism around Shepperton, in Surrey, where Ballard and his family lived. The narrator, James Ballard, tells the story of Dr Robert Vaughan whose fantasies of car crashes have taken on a sexual nature. He and others, spurned on by car crash sexual fetishism, re-enact car crashes, Vaughan’s ultimate desire being to die in a head-on car crash with the actress Elizabeth Taylor. Ballard gave his own name to characters in several of his novels including Crash.

     

    Ballard published his first science fiction stories in 1956. His style owed a lot to his interests in surrealism and human psychology and many of his novels are set in anonymous peripheral landscapes — gated communities, shopping malls, clinical airport terminals — which seem to breed violent behaviour.

     

    The image shows a draft of Ballard’s novel, which has been heavily annotated and corrected. The remarkably extensive textual re-workings reveal the meticulous nature and sheer labour of the creative process. The violence depicted in the novel is also reflected in the force with which the text was crafted on the page.

     

    Image credit: Estate of J.G. Ballard.

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