Q. D. Leavis on J. G. Ballard

by Daniel Hartley

Q. D. Leavis (1906-1981)

I came across this quotation last week in an essay by Francis Mulhern. Q. D. Leavis thinks she’s describing the general destitution of Britain and its literature, but what she’s actually doing is summarising the key elements of J. G. Ballard’s fiction.

The England that bore the classical English novel has gone forever, and we can’t expect a country of high-rise flat-dwellers, office workers and factory robots and unassimilated multi-racial minorities, with a suburbanized countryside, factory farming, sexual emancipation without responsibility, rising crime and violence, and the Trade Union mentality, to give rise to a literature comparable with the novel tradition of a so different past.

Touché, Queenie.