Answers to a Questionnaire' is a short story which was written by James Graham Ballard, and published for the first time in the English literary magazine 'Ambit', in 1985. Ballard's style of writing is highly important to understand his works, he is a member of the 'New Wave' in science fiction. His stories often represent and explore characters seemingly normal, but who are actually horrendous and violent sex maniacs. Ballard also considers the reader as an active part of the reading process in literature. This conception about the reader allows a new type of narrative patterns. As a brief introduction to this short story, we can say that it is a list of answers to a questionnaire of which the questions remain unknown to the reader. Over the 100 questions of this short story, the reader is allowed to find out what all of this is about, within the apparent chaos. It is obvious that a new narrative thread is being applied in this short story. The narrative thread set up by Ballard calls into question the way the text should interact with the reader. We will see what this narrative structure means to the reader.
[...] Finally, after having dealt in detail with the narration's tricks, a new take on thing must be done. What if the were plans within plans? The author gets onto many topics: religion, politics, science, and eternal life Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand The first thing that strikes the reader when he starts reading is the way this short story is built. It is a list of answers to a questionnaire, and that is all. [...]
[...] At first, the reader is totally flooded under the information provided by this questionnaire answers are given, and we absolutely do not know the reason of such a thing. The reader must wonder about what he is reading. The project Ballard begins in this short story is not to tell a story but to say a story. It suffices to read this short story once to understand that we are not dealing with an easy thing. It belongs to the reader to build up the story; the author should only relate facts. [...]
[...] The use of at answers #24 and #25 means that the narrator has a direct contact with the second man character. From there, we can draw 3 paths in the text to understand what is happening. These paths represent 3 major keynotes in the story: the answers linked with the personal life of the narrator, the answers linked with sex, and the answers linked with the second main character. This short story is in fact an exercise in style: Ballard deconstructs as much as possible the story. [...]
[...] Let us take the example of the first 19 questions that allow the reader to identify the narrator. "Yes" or "Male" do not mean anything if we consider them aside. Now, if we consider that this group of answers corresponds to a description of identity, it is possible to infer the question from answer by logical deduction. For example, answers and are explicit: they give answers to the questions: "genre?" "Address?" and The author seems to want to help us by not leaving doubt about the first interpretations: "Male" must be linked with the answers #43 and the important thing is to know that we are talking about the narrator. [...]
[...] As a brief introduction to this short story, we can say that it is a list of answers to a questionnaire of which questions remain unknown to the reader. Over the 100 questions of this short story, the reader is allowed to find out what all of this is about, within the apparent chaos. It is obvious that a new narrative thread is being applied in this short story. The narrative thread set up by Ballard calls into question the way the text should interact with the reader. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee