The Drowned World
Another one I’ve been meaning to read for a while. The Drowned World takes place in a post-apocalyptic future in which the world has heated up to average temperatures of well over 100 degrees as a result of solar flares. The ice caps have melted and drowned out the cities of the world, rendering them almost completely uninhabitable. In order to escape the heat, the survivors have moved to the Arctic and Antarctic circles. The novel follows Robert Kerans, a scientist with an exploratory team studying the lagoons that have sprouted up over the remains of the city of London.
I found this book very interesting because I really liked it without completely understanding why. Something in the way it was written just appealed to me. I can’t remember the last time something like that has happened, but I’m really enjoying it.
I can tell you that I enjoyed the level of detail and description, particularly when it came to the images of the fantastical mixing of decaying modern cities and natural Triassic landscapes. I also thought the slow transformation the character’s undergo was handled particularly skillfully by the author, especially the psychological aspects. I know that for myself, as a reader, it really put me into an interesting and unusual perspective on the events, particularly those near the end of the novel.
Another thing that I noticed was strong symbolism, which was sometimes even stated explicitly. In my opinion, this made the story easier to follow and to engage with. Plus I had so much fun trying to catch as much of it as possible as I read. Although that may just be me.
As far as the characters go, I thought that they were fine overall, but I was kind of disappointed with Beatrice. I was just expecting her to… do more. You know, actually do something to help instead of letting the male characters control basically everything. I don’t know if it’s because of the year it was published (1962) or if it’s just weak character development. Or maybe it’s supposed to be some kind of huge character flaw? It’s hard to tell since she’s the only woman in the novel, but she seems more like a token woman than an actual rounded character. Kind of like Erewhon‘s Arowhena.
But all of this is a bit secondary to me. When I think of my enjoyment of the book overall, I just keep going back that thing I mentioned in the second paragraph. I can’t explain it, but I liked it.
- Book- The Drowned World by JG Ballard (1962) (suegilmoreblog.wordpress.com)