Selected Essays of John Berger

( 1 )

Overview

The writing career of John Berger–poet, storyteller, playwright, and essayist–has yielded some of the most original and compelling examinations of art and life of the past half century. In this essential volume, Geoff Dyer has brought together a rich selection of many of Berger’s seminal essays.

Berger’s insights make it impossible to look at a painting, watch a film, or even visit a zoo in quite the same way again. The vast range of subjects he addresses, the lean beauty of his...

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Selected Essays of John Berger

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Overview

The writing career of John Berger–poet, storyteller, playwright, and essayist–has yielded some of the most original and compelling examinations of art and life of the past half century. In this essential volume, Geoff Dyer has brought together a rich selection of many of Berger’s seminal essays.

Berger’s insights make it impossible to look at a painting, watch a film, or even visit a zoo in quite the same way again. The vast range of subjects he addresses, the lean beauty of his prose, and the keenness of his anger against injustice move us to view the world with a new lens of awareness. Whether he is discussing the singleminded intensity of Picasso’s Guernica, the parallel violence and alienation in the art of Francis Bacon and Walt Disney, or the enigmatic silence of his own mother, what binds these pieces throughout is the depth and fury of Berger’s passion, challenging us to participate, to protest, and above all, to see.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An important, not-to-be-missed chance to luxuriate in Berger's incomparable sagacity and visual sense." —The Washington Post

“[Berger’s grace] is in his way with words, and the infinite meanings he finds in that common but extraordinary thing, noticing.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Tenderness, and an unflagging interest in the experience of being human, infuse his work.” —Los Angeles Times

"Berger is one of the greatest living writers in the English language." —Buffalo News

Publishers Weekly
At 75, British-born prolific art writer Berger (Ways of Seeing) is a longtime farm dweller in the French Alps, which may help give his prose its much-praised unadorned directness and earthiness. This weighty tome selects essays from previous volumes, including The Sense of Sight and Keeping a Rendezvous. They include terse meditations on painters like Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Goya, Poussin and Gauguin, as well as sculptors like Lipschitz, Brancusi and Zadkine. There are farm-inspired essays like "A Load of Shit" and stark personal essays with a peasant-like directness: "When my father died recently, I did several drawings of him in his coffin. Drawings of his face and head." This stance makes his thoughts about artists, whether praising Picasso or decrying the British painter Francis Bacon, seem all the more authentic and credible. Piles and piles of prejudices here wind up being eminently readable because they're expressed without ornate flourishes and in a plain-spoken (sometimes overly so) stance. In the tradition of energetic British eccentrics, Berger has contributed much to writing on modern art, often speaking sense and doing it more entertainingly than most salaried newspaper specialists. (Dec.) Forecast: Berger's Ways of Seeing is still a campus favorite for intro. to art classes, and these essays should be a sure thing for most college libraries. But Berger has enough name recognition to reach literate non-specialists, and the book should make it into many public libraries and gift tables. The author's 75th birthday makes a good hook for rousing regular art readers and getting them to make a Berger purchase. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375713187
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/11/2003
  • Series: Vintage International
  • Edition description: First Vintage International Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 934,758
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

John Berger was born in London in 1926. His many books, innovative in form and far-reaching in their historical and political insight, include the Booker Prize-wining novel G. His new collection of essays The Shape of a Pocket has been published in 2001. John Berger now lives and works in a small village in the French Alps.
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Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction

From Permanent Red (1960) (US title Toward Reality)
Preface to the 1979 Edition
Introduction
Drawing
Jackson Pollock
Henry Moore
Juan Gris
Jacques Lipchitz
Ossip Zadkine
Fernand Léger
Pablo Picasso
Henri Matisse
Oskar Kokoschka
The Clarity of the Renaissance
The Calculations of Piero
Poussin's Order
Watteau as the Painter of His Time
The Honesty of Goya
The Dilemma of the Romantics
Millet and Labour
The Politics of Courbet
Gauguin’s Crime

From The Moment of Cubism (1969)
The Moment of Cubism
The Historical Function of the Museum
The Changing View of Man in the Portrait
Art and Property Now
Image of Imperialism
Nude in a Fur Coat: Rubens
The Painter in His Studio: Vermeer
Et in Arcadia Ego: Poussin
The Maja Dressed and The Maja Undressed: Goya
Mathias Grünewald
L. S. Lowry 138
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Alberto Giacometti
Pierre Bonnard
Frans Hals
Auguste Rodin

From The Look of Things (1972)
Peter Peri
Zadkine
Le Corbusier
Victor Serge
Walter Benjamin
Drawings by Watteau
Fernand Léger
Thicker than Water (Corot)
Painting a Landscape
Understanding a Photograph
The Political Uses of Photo-Montage
The Sight of a Man
Revolutionary Undoing
Past Seen from a Possible Future
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations

The Booker Prize Speech
Speech on Accepting the Booker Prize for Fiction (1972)

From About Looking (1980)
Why Look at Animals?
The Suit and the Photograph
Photographs of Agony
Paul Strand
Uses of Photography
The Primitive and the Professional
Millet and the Peasant
Seker Ahmet and the Forest
La Tour and Humanism
Francis Bacon and Walt Disney
An Article of Faith
Between Two Colmars
Courbet and the Jura
Turner and the Barber’s Shop
Rouault and the Suburbs of Paris
Magritte and the Impossible
Romaine Lorquet
Field

From The White Bird (1985) (US title The Sense of Sight)
The White Bird
The Storyteller
The Eaters and the Eaten
On the Bosphorus
The Theatre of Indifference
Modigliani's Alphabet of Love
The Hals Mystery
In a Moscow Cemetery
Ernst Fischer: A Philosopher and Death
François, Georges and Amélie: A Requiem in Three Parts
Drawn to That Moment
The Eyes of Claude Monet
The Work of Art
Mayakovsky: His Language and His Death [with Anya Bostock]
The Hour of Poetry
Leopardi
The Production of the World

Ulysses
The First and Last Recipe: Ulysses (1991)

From Keeping a Rendezvous (1992)
Note to the Reader
Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye
That Which Is Held
A Load of Shit
Mother
A Story for Aesop
The Ideal Palace
Imagine Paris
A Kind of Sharing
Christ of the Peasants
A Professional Secret
Ape Theatre
The Opposite of Naked
A Household
Drawing on Paper
Erogenous Zone
The Soul and the Operator
The Third Week of August, 1991

Appendices
Notes
Sources

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