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.

I am presenting this paper at the annual Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) conference at SUNY Stonybrook, NY, June 25-27, 2015.

Abstract: JG Ballard is not known for his sensitive or nuanced portrayal of women. Yet in this paper I will pose the question: 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?

In order to answer this question I will read between the lines of this canonical Science Fiction text to expose Beatrice’s hitherto marginalized history and liminal strength.

I will carefully mine the actual text 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 will write 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

 

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