As I later read a few of his novels I had a slow and growing sense of how his adult fiction drew upon that early experience described in this memoir in both the world turned upside down story which resurfaces in several of Ballard s later novels and the oddly half affectionate tone of the child narrator for the Japanese even in the internment camp there is an incident when he is being taught trigonometry and he asks the Doctor who is teaching him if he should show the Japanese guards his sums so that they could improve their targeting of incoming American bomber planes, striking is the strange atmosphere as the young Ballard watches Kamikaze pilots walking about the airfield that borders the internment camp before they depart on their missions.
Novels like The Drowned World and The Drought reinterpret the childhood experience in a way to make it explicable to adult readers who didn t grow up in Shanghai before the Second World War and didn t live through the collapse of seemingly concrete family and power structures, the complete transformation of one way of life for another, the metaphor that Ballard has used is that this is like a set change, and therefore the way that familiar, everyday life is just a piece of theatre If it appears permanent and unchanging this is only because the curtain hasn t fallen yet Perhaps something of this idea underlies the popularity of a certain kind of disaster literature and drama whether of vampires, zombies or alien invaders that there is a true fundamental set of values beneath the surface of everyday modern life in which problems can be resolved directly and in a natural manful way by shooting at them It can follow that there is even an eagerness for a disaster, any disaster provided it is destructive enough, to clear away contemporary civilisation I think Ballard s view is slightly different His point, I suspect, is that the world of the camp is as in substantial as the international community of 1930s Shanghai or of post war south west London When the Yangtze river flooded, the young Ballard could see that the land around Shanghai had became an inland sea, once the flood waters had ebbed Shanghai was surrounded once by arable land Both conditions were equally real, both subject to the functioning of the environment Nudge that environment, and you see that glistening cityscape as a house of cards.
A few days ago, I learned a new Japanese word Nijuuhibakusha means literally twice radiation sick individual , and refers to the few people who, through staggering bad luck, managed to be present both at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and then at Nagasaki three days later The article I read was an obituary for Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the last surviving nijuuhibakusha I was not surprised to discover that Mr Yamaguchi was strongly opposed to nuclear weapons, and had spent a substantial part of his life campaigning against them But it s funny how everything has a flipside after reading the article, I also thought of this book Young Jim Ballard was one of many Westerners who were interned after the Japanese took Shanghai He grew up in a POW camp his descriptions of life there are horrifying, than anything else, because of the matter of fact way in which he presents them This is simply how it was inadequate food, arbitrary punishments and killings Nothing to get excited about, after the first few months.
The war is going badly for the Japanese, and it s becoming clear that they will lose There is even less to eat than before One day, the inmates are told that they are going on a long march to a different location They don t have the strength for this Jim realizes, without much emotion, that he s going to die But a miracle happens Over the dark waters of the bay, he sees a flash It s a long way off, but he suddenly knows that he s been saved The atom bomb will make Japan surrender now, not months in the future, and he ll get out.
After this, Ballard always has warm, fuzzy feelings for nuclear weapons In the sequel, he describes the Vulcan bombers he sees at the Cambridgeshire base near where he then lives He imagines the megatons they re carrying, and gives them a little pat on the head There are few authors who can make me quite as disoriented as Ballard.
253 Empire of the Sun, J.
G BallardThe novel recounts the story of a young British boy, Jamie Graham named after Ballard s two first names, James Graham , who lives with his parents in Shanghai After the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan occupies the Shanghai International Settlement, and in the following chaos Jim becomes separated from his parents and , Empire of the Sun is a 1984 novel by English writer J G Ballard 2012 1374 403 20 1382 432 35 1388 9789643621445 1395 1937.
JG Ballard s Empire of the Sun is a compelling and engaging novel written from the perspective of a boy held prisoner by the Japanese during WWII Really fantastic storytelling Not sure I was prepared for the power of this book It s both understated and profound in its insights I ended up reading 4 JG Ballard novels this April Empire of the Sun couldn t have been different from these other novels Atrocity Exhibition, High Rise and Concrete Island I m not even sure I can reconcile Empire of the Sun and The Atrocity Exhibition as works written by the same author I will probably continue to think of Ballard as the innovative author of speculative or dystopian literature, but Wow, Empire of the Sun makes its own mark Some parts seemed a bit drawn out than necessary, but still a fantastic story about Ballard s experiences and about war and survival 4.