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The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard

The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard


New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1966. Book club edition. Hardcover. 210 pages : 20 cm. In original dust jacket, with clean pages and no markings. Binding is sound.

J. G. Ballard

In his new novel J. G. Ballard has used all the verbal skill and narrative virtuosity that are his hallmark as a writer, and has created a shimmering and fascinating picture of the forces of nature gone wrong. The protagonist of The Crystal World is Dr. Edward Sanders, and the setting of his strange story is the interior of Africa. The first thing Sanders noticed, on arriving at Port Matarre in search of his friends, Dr. and Madame Clair, was a "pervading auroral gloom, broken by sudden inward shifts of light." This curious darkness at mid-morning marked the beginning of his sense of unease and foreboding. The unusual behavior of the authorities, who refused to admit that anything was wrong, seemed to confirm his premonition that something ominous was happening.

Dr. Sanders had started on this journey to visit the Clairs after receiving a letter from Suzanne Clair that hinted of curious transformations going on in the African forest near which her husband's clinic was located. "The forest is the most beautiful in Africa, a house of jewels," she wrote, even implying that changes were occurring in the people: "They walk through the dark forest with crowns of light on their heads." As Dr. Sanders journeyed up the river to his final destiny, he found more and more evidence that he was entering—and that the whole world was about to become—a glittering, crystalline petrifaction.

The Crystal World is J. G. Ballard's fourth novel. Since the publication in 1962 of his first book, The Wind from Nowhere, his reputation as one of the most challenging new writers of fiction has grown immeasurably. His second novel, The Drowned World, was a bestseller both in England and in America, and critics agree that no writer of comparable stature has appeared in years. Kingsley Amis, for one, asserts that "Ballard is one of the brightest new stars in postwar fiction," with an "imaginative talent of great depth and originality."

J. G. BALLARD is a native of England, where his third novel, The Drought, was published last spring. He is also the author of four collections of short fiction: The Voices of Time, Terminal Beach, Billenium and Passport to Eternity.

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