Being Dead? Trauma and the Liminal Narrative in J. G. Ballards Crash and Tom McCarthys Remainder

Jim Byatt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This essay takes a new interpretative approach to McCarthys Remainder and Ballards Crash, working from the premise that each is a narrative of peritraumatic dissociation, in which the protagonist is attempting to rationalize a potentially fatal trauma from within the moment of the event itself. Drawing on critical approaches to liminal narratives, Baudrillards theories of simulacra, and psychological research into the nature of peritraumatic experience, the essay suggests a way of reading each novel as a narrative which inhabits the threshold between life and death. By treating each text as a fictional account of the moment of transition between existential states, the paper addresses the persistent implication in both Crash and Remainder that the landscape inhabited by the protagonists is not the oreal' world of the living, but instead a subjective reconstruction through which the moment of death is postponed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-259
Number of pages15
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • G
  • trauma
  • Tom
  • Ballard
  • McCarthy
  • peritraumatic dissociation
  • liminality
  • simulacra
  • near-death experience
  • J


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