A Writer of Our Time: The Life and Work of John Berger

A Writer of Our Time: The Life and Work of John Berger

by Joshua Sperling


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The first intellectual biography of the life and work of John Berger

John Berger was one of the most influential thinkers and writers of postwar Europe. As a novelist, he won the Booker prize in 1972, donating half his prize money to the Black Panthers. As a TV presenter, he changed the way we looked at art with Ways of Seeing. As a storyteller and political activist, he defended the rights and dignity of workers, migrants, and the oppressed around the world. “Far from dragging politics into art,” he wrote in 1953, “art has dragged me into politics.” He remained a revolutionary up to his death in January 2017.

Built around a series of watersheds, at once personal and historical, A Writer of Our Time traces Berger’s development from his roots as a postwar art student and polemicist in the Cold War battles of 1950s London, through the heady days of the 1960s—when the revolutions were not only political but sexual and artistic—to Berger’s reinvention as a rural storyteller and the long hangover that followed the rise and fall of the New Left.

Drawing on first-hand, unpublished interviews and archival sources only recently made available, Joshua Sperling digs beneath the moments of controversy to reveal a figure of remarkable complexity and resilience. The portrait that emerges is of a cultural innovator as celebrated as he was often misunderstood, and a writer increasingly driven as much by what he loved as by what he opposed. A Writer of Our Time brings the many faces of John Berger together, repatriating one of our great minds to the intellectual dramas of his and our time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786637437
Publisher: Verso Books
Publication date: 04/14/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 605,371
Product dimensions: 5.04(w) x 7.79(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

Joshua Sperling was born in New York City and grew up in California. His writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Guernica, Film Quarterly, Jump Cut and Bullett Magazine, among other publications. He received a PhD in Comparative Literature, Film and Media from Yale University and currently teaches at Oberlin College.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Dialectic and the Pear Tree 1

1 The Battle for Realism 19

2 The Crisis of Commitment 49

3 Art and Revolution 73

4 Divided Loyalties 107

5 A Toast to Modernism 139

6 The Work of Friendship 161

7 Beyond Ideology 185

8 The Shape of a Valley 215

Acknowledgements 241

Notes 245

Index 281

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