However beautiful the later collections Portraits and Landscapes are, John Berger’s Selected Essays is still the quintessential Berger collection (brilliantly selected by the wonderful Geoff Dyer). All in one place are some of my very favorite essays period (not art history or political essays, just killer essays—great examples of short non-fiction meditations on various topics). “The Moment of Cubism” is a vital introduction to modern art and Modernism generally and contextualizes it in the experience of modern life. “The Suit and the Photograph” is a laser-pointed political analysis of fashion, photography, and class – “the suit is a symbol of sedentary power.” “Why Look at Animals?” is a brilliant analysis our relationship to animals and how it has been transformed by modernity—zoos emerge when modern capitalism changes our own lives and denigrates the animal with which we once lived into a spectacle. And that’s only three of them. Brilliant.
— Dafydd Wood
The writing career of Booker Prize winner 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.
About the Author
John Berger was born in London in 1926. He is well known for his novels and stories as well as for his works of nonfiction, including several volumes of art criticism. His first novel, A Painter of Our Time, was published in 1958, and since then his books have included Ways of Seeing, the fiction trilogy Into Their Labours, and the novel G., which won the Booker Prize in 1972. In 1962 he left Britain permanently, and lived in a small village in the French Alps. He died in 2017.
"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