Beatrice Dahl: JG Ballard’s Hidden Heroine?

Beatrice, as we find her in the novel, reads like a character custom built to be played by Karen Black in her 1970s prime.

Beatrice, as we find her in the novel, reads like a character custom built to be played by Karen Black in her 1970s prime. Graphic by Peter Burgess.

JG Ballard is not known for his sensitive or nuanced portrayal of women. Yet argue I that if we re-examine his classic 1962 novel, The Drowned World, can we find a powerful and admirable female character in the form of Beatrice Dahl.

I have read between the lines of this canonical sci-fi text to expose Beatrice’s hitherto marginalized history and liminal strength.

I carefully mined the novel for clues, then, using a strategy employed by both fan-fiction and post-colonial literature (see for example Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs and The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys), I wrote an imaginary chapter into the existing plot framework of The Drowned World in order to reveal the complexity of Beatrice’s character.

Read my complete ‘missing’ Chapter 3.5  here: The Penthouse Pool_Tracey Clement

Read my essay, “Finding a hidden heroine in J. G. Ballard’s sci-fi novel, The Drowned World,” here.

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