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Empire of the Sun

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Empire of the Sun.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    J. G. Ballard(Author)

    Book details

From the creators of the movie tie-in blockbusteries, The Color Purple, comes the most certain money-making event of this winter. Empire of the Sun is the story of a young boy in Shanghai who witnesses the outbreak of World War II and the bombing of Nagasaki.

"An outstanding novel...a classic adventure story." * No.17 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written * 'One of the brightest stars in post-war fiction' -- Kingsley Amis * 'There are those (I am among them) who would back Ballard as Britain's number one living novelist' -- John Sutherland, Sunday Times * 'This novel, with its brilliant descriptions of an inundated London and an ecology reverting to the Triassic, gained Ballard acceptance as a major author' -- Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

3.5 (12946)
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Book details

  • PDF | 279 pages
  • J. G. Ballard(Author)
  • Buccaneer Books (December 1, 1997)
  • English
  • 7
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By RNJ on June 13, 2014

    The author, born in Shanghai, China, in 1930, explains in the Foreword that this novel is based on his experiences during World War Two, during which he was interned from 1942 to 1945, in his early teens. Indeed, the main character Jim is separated from his parents. The 1987 film by Steven Spielberg makes a big to-do of their separation, but in the book it seems to happen as it might happen to a child. One moment his parents are present, as he is knocked down in a certain melee. The next moment his mother is gone: “Jim’s mother had disappeared, cut off from him by the column of military trucks” (32). Then his father lies down with him, but mysteriously, the next day Jim finds himself alone in a hospital, hoping his parents will come for him soon.This bright boy must now negotiate the muddy and treacherous waters of wartime virtually on his own. I was inspired by a recent viewing of the film to read the book. I recall many of the movie’s scenes as they unfold on the pages. However, Spielberg takes some liberties, as film directors are wont to do, in order to tell his story. The novel is multi-layered, with countless poignant and sad scenes, but Spielberg turns it into a boy’s adventure story. Both are great, but they are not equally great works.In the beginning, the eleven-year-old Jim, intelligent though he is, possesses childish and feckless notions:“He thought of telling Mr. Maxted that not only had he left the cubs and become an atheist, but he might become a Communist as well. The Communists had an intriguing ability to unsettle everyone, a talent Jim greatly respected” (15).And like a child he tends to think about things with a limited point of view:“Jim had little idea of his own future—life in Shanghai was lived wholly within an intense present—but he imagined himself growing up to be like Mr. Maxted” (16).Early on Jim grasps what death is all about, yet also a certain irony he may not fully understand until later:“In many ways the skeletons were more live than the peasant farmers who had briefly tenanted their bones. Jim felt his cheeks and jaw, trying to imagine his own skeleton in the sun, lying here in this peaceful field within sight of the deserted aerodrome” (17).As a child might, Jim feels he is responsible for things that are not really his fault, again, largely because he lacks the full picture that an adult would see.The novel, like a children’s story, moves from one episode to the next, one scene to the next. I found it hard to follow at first. But then I realized that perhaps Ballard wishes for the reader to experience this daze that Jim is in, the chaotically episodic nature of his life over a period of several years, as he struggles to stay alive. Even though he periodically wonders where his parents are, even wonders what they look like, his main focus is on staying alive. His body suffers malnutrition. He develops pus-laden gums.In my Kindle I highlighted the word sun, sunlight, and many synonyms for the word. Ballard seems to be saying two things. One, the Japanese empire, whose symbol seems to be that big red sun on its flag, is stretching its domain to include China. The sun also seems to symbolize a brighter day for Jim and the thousands of other refugees of their war. Ballard’s use of it is never heavy-handed; the “sun” just seems to appear as a natural part of this war-torn world.I’ve read other war (anti-war) novels: Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Heller’s Catch-22, and others. This novel captures yet a different war, part of the Pacific theater, but it is seen through the eyes of a boy, who at times perceives things poorly because he is a child, and at the same time grasps what’s happening precisely because his innocence allows him to see the truth. And his point of view often allows him to sidestep the callous or evil actions or adults, even those who profess to be looking out for him. Ballard seems to cast little judgment over this war. It is only where this young man is trapped, alive, yet half dead. Ballard’s last paragraph works as a précis of his entire novel:“Below the bows of the Arrawa a child’s coffin moved onto the night stream. Its paper flowers were shaken loose by the wash of a landing craft carrying sailors from the American cruiser. The flowers formed a wavering garland around the coffin as it began its long journey to the estuary of the Yangtze, only to be swept back by the incoming tide among the quays and mud flats, driven once again to the shores of this terrible city” (279).Jim and his parents are reunited very quietly (unlike the film). Though they return to England, others are not so fortunate. Many, like the child's coffin, are swept back to Shanghai.

  • By PamGunn on January 22, 2018

    I love this book and have read it a few times. This order was for a friend of mine in England. When she began reading it she noticed the print was "off". When I saw it I noticed that the printed letters are slightly blurred throughout the entire book making it difficult to read and concentrate. I was quite disappointed that my gift was so poorly made and I feel that the vendor must use more quality control prior to shipping out such poor quality items.

  • By Consultology on August 6, 2016

    Empire du Soleil c'est une aventure formidable, cette histoire-nouvelle de JG Ballard, basée sur ses memoires de Shanghai comme un jeune homme imprisonné pour les japonais au cours de la deuxième guerre mondiale.Actually I ordered Empire of the Sun in English, but was shipped the French version by mistake (although the image for the English version still shows Empire du Soleil), and the book seller promptly refunded my payment.

  • By Dorothea Shefer-Vanson on March 12, 2014

    This book provides an interesting angle on WWII from the viewpoint of a young boy living the good life in pre-war Shanghai and then kept by the Japanese for three years in a camp for enemy citizens. The boy's-eye-view provides an unusual insight into the mental workings of the mind in those conditions, and the way the individual adapts to circumstances that require a complete change of mind-set in order to survive.For me personally it provided a glimpse -- albeit vastly different -- to the conditions of life in a concentration camp, though in this case there was no organized mass-murder of inmates. The privation, lack of freedom, and situation in which many different individuals and nationalities were enclosed side by side forces the protagonist, young Jim, to find his balance and make the most of his ability to adapt and find his place in this very different environment.The book is well-written, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, 'The Kindness of Women.'

  • By James C. Casterline on September 7, 2015

    I saw the movie many years before I read the book. The movie was quite interesting. It illustrated a book I hadn't read yet the book itself makes an interesting story out of a harrowing experience. Much was left out for obvious reasons but a narrative of more than four years would have been less compelling (though I would have slogged though it.). I liked the book. Read it! You will be glad you did.

  • By Guest on February 19, 2014

    I have a mom crush on Christian Bale. My granddaughter told me about this movie and it came on cable. I watched it a couple of times and decided to buy it. Christian Bale is a great actor and I think he is another actor that is underrated. He can play any role he takes on. In Empire of the Sun he was only 14 years old. Amazing. He was the headliner of the movie. Also gives you an idea about what some people went through during WWII. He was in an internment camp not a concentration camp. The Japanese were a lot more civilized than the Nazi's. Not to say they were great just more civilized to prisoners. I bought the book and the movie.

  • By Sharon Parker on September 17, 2014

    This is the story of a young boy of wealthy British parents who had lived his entire life in Shanghai, China during the 1930s. As the Japanese army invades, he is separated from his parents and finds himself on his own. He learns to adjust to his rapidly changing and usually dangerous circumstances. With the aid of his keen intelligence and the unconscious charm of a bright, curious child, he survives the horrific experiences he faces in a Japanese prison camp, and the even worse aftermath of world war II. This book is packed with humor, wisdom, sadness, of the best reads I have ever enjoyed.

  • By Wendy Busby on March 5, 2016

    Why I've bothered to read this book last of all J. G. Ballards books I can't tell you . I have all his books now and this has given me so much insight to his world view. To go through all that as a child and come out sane? Ah God bless you MR Ballard you did the world a favor by writing all of these beautiful books. R I P . Wendy Busby

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