Piecing Together J. G. Ballard’s "The Atrocity Exhibition"

Marcin Tereszewski


J.G. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition can easily be classified as his most experimental novel, one that, more than any other of his works, succeeds in presenting, or perhaps representing, the fragmented condition of a media-saturated Western culture. On the surface, it does appear to be a postmodern and seemingly chaotic bricolage of pop iconography, landscapes, and medical references arranged non-linearly and without plot, and yet there is a unifying principle at work, anchoring the texts in a specific ideological context of 1960s Western culture. The main argument of this paper expands on Debord’s study of spectacle and regards The Atrocity Exhibition as a work that not only attempts to frustrate reading expectations, but also addresses the cultural shift towards spectacular society.


Ballard; Debord; spectacle; experimental literature

Full Text:



Ballard, J. G. (1997). User’s Guide to the Millennium: Essays and Reviews. London: Flamingo.

Ballard, J. G. (2001). The Atrocity Exhibition. [eBook, HarperCollins Publishers].

Brigg, P. (1985). J. G. Ballard. Starmont’s Reader’s Guide 26. Mercer Island: Starmont House.

Burns. A. (Ed.). (1981). The Imagination on Trial: British and American Writers Discuss their Working Methods. Retrieved December 25, 2019, from https://www.jgballard.ca/media/1974_imagination_on_trial.html.

Debord, G. (1970). Society of the Spectacle. Detroit: Black & Red.

Debord, G. (2011). Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (M. Imrie, Trans.). London, New York: Verso.

Ferris, N. (2019). J.G. Ballard: Visuality and the novels of the near future. In K. Mitchell, & N. Williams (Eds.), British Avant-Garde Fiction of the 1960s (pp. 125-142). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Gasiorek, A. (2004). J. G. Ballard. Contemporary British Novelists. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Huntley, J. (2008). Disquieting features: An introductory tour of The Atrocity Exhibition. In J. Baxter (Ed.), J.G. Ballard: Contemporary Critical Perspectives (pp. 24-33). London: Continuum International Publishing.

Kaplan, R. L. (2012). Between mass society and revolutionary praxis: The contradictions of Guy Debord’s Society of Spectacle. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(4), 457-478.

Luckhurst, R. (1997). The Angle Between Two Walls: The Fiction of J.G. Ballard. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Marx, K. (1887). Capital: A Critique of Political Economy: Vol. 1. (S. Moore & E. Aveling, Trans.). Retrieved December 25, 2019, from https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Capital-Volume-I.pdf.

Paddy, D. I. (2015). The Empire of J.G. Ballard: An Imagined Geography. Canterbury: Gylphy.

Stephenson, G. (1991). Out of the Night and into the Dream: A Thematic Study of the Fiction of J. G. Ballard. London: Greenwood.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/lsmll.2020.44.2.75-82
Data publikacji: 2020-07-14 13:48:34
Data złożenia artykułu: 2020-02-24 22:24:01


Total abstract view - 574
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 435



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Marcin Tereszewski

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.