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Jeannette Baxter. J G Ballard’s Surrealist Imagination: Spectacular Authorship. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2009 [Book Review] // Robert Bond and Jenny Bavidge, eds. City Visions: The Work of Iain Sinclair. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007. [Book Review]

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posted on 22.05.2017, 04:10 authored by Simon Sellars
It is perhaps surprising that Iain Sinclair has courted less academic attention than might be expected from a writer of his stature. His circular ex-cisions of the written word, rewoven into the circuitous labyrinth of London’s urban fabric, his insistent intertextual frameworks and syntactic ambiguity seem to beg, at the least, a type of speculative literary criticism. Yet, as City Visions’ editors, Robert Bond and Jenny Bavidge, propose, perhaps Sinclair’s critical absence is a result of the peculiar tension his body of work engenders – tension between genres, between film, poetry and literature, between critical and commercial success and obscure, small-press inaccessibility, all of which he straddles.


In contrast to Sinclair, Ballard has been very well served by academia. J G Ballard’s Surrealist Imagination represents the fifth book-length, critical analysis of his work (alongside numerous essays) and the second by Jeannette Baxter, who also edited Continuum’s collection of essays, J G Ballard: Contemporary Critical Perspectives (2009). One wonders what Ballard himself might have made of it all. In 1991, he penned a wonderfully distemperate letter to Science Fiction Studies, in which he denounced the critical consciousness surrounding SF (a genre he is strongly associated with) as “bourgeoisification in the form of an over-professionalized academia with nowhere to take its girlfriend for a bottle of wine and a dance."


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Book Review