Empire of the Sun
|Empire of the Sun|
Cover of the first edition (hardback)
|Author||J. G. Ballard|
|Cover artist||Pat Doyle|
|Genre||Autobiographical, War novel|
|Publication date||13 September 1984|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||278 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-575-03483-1 (first edition, hardback)|
|LC Classification||PR6052.A46 E45x 1984b|
|Followed by||The Kindness of Women|
Empire of the Sun is a 1984 novel by J. G. Ballard which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Like Ballard's earlier short story, "The Dead Time" (published in the anthology Myths of the Near Future), it is essentially fiction but draws extensively on Ballard's experiences in World War II. The name of the novel refers to the Kanji characters of the Empire of Japan.
Ballard later wrote of his experiences in China as a boy and the making of the film of the same name in his autobiography Miracles of Life.
The novel recounts the story of a young British boy, Jamie Graham (named after Ballard's two first names, "James Graham"), who lives with his parents in Shanghai. After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese occupy the Shanghai International Settlement, and in the following chaos Jim becomes separated from his parents.
He spends some time in abandoned mansions, living on remnants of packaged food. Having exhausted the food supplies, he decides to try to surrender to the Japanese Army. After many attempts, he finally succeeds and is interned in the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center.
Although the Japanese are "officially" the enemies, Jim identifies partly with them, both because he adores the pilots with their splendid machines and because he feels that Lunghua is still a comparatively safer place for him.
Towards the end of the war, with the Japanese army collapsing, the food supply runs short. Jim barely survives, with people around him starving to death. The camp prisoners are forced upon a march to Nantao, with many dying along the route. Jim then leaves the march and is saved from starvation by air drops from American Bombers. Jim returns to Lunghua camp and finds Dr. Ransome there, soon returning to his pre-war residence with his parents.
The book was adapted by Tom Stoppard in 1987. The screenplay was filmed by Steven Spielberg, to critical acclaim, being nominated for six Oscars and winning three British Academy Awards (for cinematography, music and sound). It starred 13-year-old Christian Bale, as well as John Malkovich and Miranda Richardson; it also featured a cameo by the 21 year old Ben Stiller, in a dramatic role.
Air sequences were filmed in Spain using two P-51D aircraft from 'The Fighter Collection' of England, and one Mustang from the 'Old Flying Machine Company'. Four Harvard SNJ aircraft were lightly modified in France to resemble Mitsubishi A6M Zero aircraft. Two additional non-flying replicas were used. A 18 foot wingspan B-29 model was used along with six other scale RC planes.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2007)|
- Modern first editions - a set on Flickr
- Air Classics: 10. January 1988.
- Air Classics: 63. January 1988.
- Rossi, Umberto. “Mind is the Battlefield: Reading Ballard's ‘Life Trilogy’ as War Literature”, J. Baxter (ed.), J.G. Ballard, Contemporary Critical Perspectives, London, Continuum, 2008, 66-77.
- Listen to J. G. Ballard discussing Empire of the Sun - a British Library recording.
- http://www.rickmcgrath.com/jgb.html The Terminal Collection: J. G. Ballard First Editions.