Historical & Cultural Violence

Umberto Rossi
War in Hell: Reading War in J.G. Ballard’s The Kindness of Women

21 Minutes


I think that an analysis of Ballard's 1991's semi-autobiographical novel may help us to understand what the meaning of war and violence is in his complex and sometime beguiling maze of images. This paper should fit the theme of Representations of Cultural and Historical Violence, as war can be considered the epitome of violence, and what is interesting in Kindness is exactly how violence is represented, based on what cultural coordinates, and how writing provides Ballard with a mental stage where his life can be re-presented to readers but also reinvented. The modalities of such a narrative re-invention may shed light on what Ballard was doing in the 1980s (also in Empire of the Sun) and what he is currently doing in his non-SF phase.

Biographical note: I am an independent scholar and journalist, translator and secondary school teacher. My mail fields of research are Philip K. Dick, Jonathan Lethem, James G. Ballard, and Thomas Pynchon; war literature; science-fiction and postmodernist fiction; literature and other media (radio, cinema).