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The Mob: J. G. Ballard's Turn to the Collective

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Novel: A Forum on Fiction
Issue number3
Volume53
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)436–451
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The article identifies a shift in J. G. Ballard's work from a preoccupation with the individual to a preoccupation with the collective. It reads Ballard's late fiction as being part of a wider turn in the culture of Western, neoliberal states toward a reignition of a spirit of collectivism. With Ballard's work, this is most striking in the novels' depiction of neoliberal societies themselves, and so the essay begins with a treatment of how they are figured. What emerges from this is that Ballard's depiction of potentially new collective forms of life is at once utopian and dystopian. In fact, the dystopian elements identified lead on to a much deeper trait of the work. That is the reactionary tendency to portray the collective as a violent mob, which, as is demonstrated, has a long history and an increasingly prominent present.