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A Moment in Ramallah

John Berger: In Palestine, 24 July 2003

... Certain trees – particularly the mulberries and medlars – still tell the story of how long ago, in another life, before the nakba, Ramallah was, for the well-off, a town of leisure and ease, a place to retreat to from nearby Jerusalem during the hot summers, a resort. The nakba refers to the ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 when ten thousand Palestinians were killed and 700,000 were forced to leave their country ...

Agreeing with Berger

Peter Campbell, 19 March 1987

Ways of Telling: The Work of John Berger 
by Geoff Dyer.
Pluto, 186 pp., £4.95, December 1986, 0 7453 0097 9
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... John Berger is 60. He is not forgotten. Permanent Red, his criticism from the Fifties, is in print. Ways of Seeing is the antidote put in the hands of students who have drunk too deeply of Courtauld art history. His novels, too, have created a stir. His first, A Painter of Our Time, had such vitriolic reviews that the publishers withdrew it, and G won the Booker Prize: Berger’s hard swallow on that sugarplum made him briefly notorious ...

Back of Beyond

John Barrell, 9 April 1992

Keeping a rendezvous 
by John Berger.
Granta, 252 pp., £14.99, January 1992, 0 14 014229 0
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... they look so hard.’ Throughout this very varied book, and especially when writing on art, John Berger invites us to acknowledge the absolutes and universals which, he insists, lie behind the surfaces of things. He doesn’t have a great deal to say about those absolutes, and asks us to be content with terms like the essential, the invisible, the ...

Saving Time

Ian Patterson, 19 January 2017

... for John Berger It was called a hand as proof, spotless and caught       like watching a false cuff, kind of. It is a pepper mill or a path like a vision along to the glass door. Her will       and the men, hesitating, end up like a house fire. A tight fit bolts and lands in such a way. The shape of hers       seems to me to lament mere shade ...

Hare’s Blood

Peter Wollen: John Berger, 4 April 2002

The Selected Essays of John Berger 
edited by Geoff Dyer.
Bloomsbury, 599 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 7475 5419 6
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... John Berger’s selected essays run to nearly six hundred pages, yet that is just the tip of the iceberg if one looks at the totality of his published work: the essays and reviews about the visual arts – drawing, painting, photography, film – but also short stories, journals, screenplays, travel articles, letters, television scripts, translations, novels, poems, even a requiem in three parts which gives a wrenching account of the untimely deaths of three of Berger’s neighbours ...


Nicholas Penny, 19 November 1981

Moments of Vision 
by Kenneth Clark.
Murray, 191 pp., £9.50, October 1981, 0 7195 3860 2
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... less grave than the anachronistic and sentimental idea, entertained by the supposedly tough-minded John Berger in his television series, that Frans Hals intended his late group portraits to expose the true horror of bourgeois society. Civilisation certainly extends our sympathies; it may deepen our understanding of European history; but it avoids ...

A New Twist in the Long Tradition of the Grotesque

Marina Warner: The monstrousness of Britart, 13 April 2000

High Art Lite: British Art in the 1990s 
by Julian Stallabrass.
Verso, 342 pp., £22, December 1999, 1 85984 721 8
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This is Modern Art 
by Matthew Collings.
Weidenfeld, 270 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 297 84292 7
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... permission to use the runnels and platforms for The Vertical Line, a performance piece devised by John Berger. In Ways of Seeing, Berger presented on television for the first time an ideological analysis of art and aesthetics. One of the programmes juxtaposed pin-ups and centrefolds with Titians, in a powerful early ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Pop Poetry, 25 July 2002

... Bloodaxe version). Its most fervent admirer among those who plug it in its many blurbs is John Berger, who writes: I live in France. I take this book everywhere with me. And almost every day I find myself opening it to translate a poem to somebody after a discussion or a joke or a conversation. Maybe to a Polish building worker, maybe to two ...

Vérités Bergères

Frank Kermode, 7 March 1991

Lilac and Flag 
by John Berger.
Granta, 211 pp., £12.99, January 1991, 0 14 014214 2
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... This is the third volume of John Berger’s trilogy, ‘Into their Labours’ (‘Others have laboured and ye are entered into their labours,’ John 4.38). The enterprise has occupied him at intervals for 17 years, so it is not surprising that the result is a work of considerable density ...

Not His Type

Frank Kermode, 5 September 1996

About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96 
by David Sylvester.
Chatto, 448 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 7011 6268 6
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... he unequivocally dislikes; the only rough treatment meted out is reserved for a realist rival, John Berger. Sylvester is a lover and always seeking to make his reader understand his passion, whether it is for the turds in Gilbert and George’s ‘Naked Shit Pictures’ or Cy Twombly’s ‘scribbling and scattering’: ‘Such a painting is surely ...

In Denbigh Road

Peter Campbell: David Sylvester, 7 February 2002

... About Modern Art, Sylvester tells how Britain in the 1950s had, as he saw it, to be saved from John Berger (both men had stints as art critic for the New Statesman) whose ‘rhetorical skills and . . . performing skills on TV won considerable support, financial as well as moral, for inferior artists.’ Berger had a ...

Siding with Rushdie

Christopher Hitchens, 26 October 1989

The Rushdie File 
edited by Lisa Appignanesi and Sara Maitland.
Fourth Estate/ICA, 268 pp., £5.95, July 1989, 0 947795 84 7
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CounterBlasts No 4: Sacred Cows 
by Fay Weldon.
Chatto, 43 pp., £2.99, July 1989, 0 7011 3556 5
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Salman Rushdie and the Third World: Myths of the Nation 
by Timothy Brennan.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, September 1989, 0 333 49020 7
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... an anchor of certainty and principle that it would be physically painful to haul it in. Listen to John Berger, tending the authentic mulch of pig earth and keeping his ear close to his own well-manured ground, as he instructed the readers of the Guardian on 25 February: The Rushdie affair has already cost several human lives and threatens to cost ...

At the Whitechapel

Rosemary Hill: ‘Black Eyes and Lemonade’, 23 May 2013

... who showed themselves to be the intellectual heirs of the didactic Victorian tradition. John Berger, in the New Statesman, complained that the show demonstrated that ‘industrial capitalism has now destroyed the standards of Popular Taste and substituted for them standards of gentility, Bogus-Originality and competitive cultural ...


Denis Donoghue, 2 February 1984

Towards 2000 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 273 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780701126858
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Writing in Society 
by Raymond Williams.
Verso, 268 pp., £18.50, December 1983, 0 86091 072 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Martin Robertson, 253 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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... political life’. The writers Inglis presents under this rubric are William Morris, T.H. Green, John Maynard Keynes, R.G. Collingwood, F.R. Leavis, George Orwell, Adrian Stokes, Tony Crosland – as he calls him – Richard Titmuss, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, John Berger, E.P. Thompson and Isaiah Berlin. If ...

At the V&A

Rosemary Hill: Constable , 23 October 2014

... that the sketches had a ‘force of sensation’, but found the finished oils a ‘bore’. John Berger took the opposite view, that the completed works were rich in brilliant light effects, but the sketches were weakened by vague Romanticism. More recent left-wing critiques, especially since John Barrell’s The ...

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