John Berger

(1926 / London Borough of Hackney)

John Berger
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John Peter Berger (born 5 November 1926) is an English art critic, novelist, painter, poet and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a university text.


Born in Hackney, London, England, Berger was educated at St Edward's School, an independent school for boys in Oxford. His father, S.J.D. Berger, O.B.E., M.C., had been an infantry officer on the western front during the First World War. Berger served in the British Army from 1944 to 1946; he then enrolled in the Chelsea School of Art and the Central School of Art in London.

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  • When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the ...
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," Expressen (Stockholm, Nov. 3, 1990)....
  • ''Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world which operates on the basis of necessity. Compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. Guardian (London, Dec. 19, 1991).
  • All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this—as in other ways—they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us for...
    John Berger (b. 1926), British novelist, critic. "How Fast Does It Go?" Keeping a Rendezvous (1992).
  • ''Post-modernism has cut off the present from all futures. The daily media add to this by cutting off the past. Which means that critical opinion is often orphaned in the present.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Infamy," Guardian (London, Sept. 21, 1990).
  • Today the discredit of words is very great. Most of the time the media transmit lies. In the face of an intolerable world, words appear to change very little. State power has become congenitally deaf,...
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Lost Off Cape Wrath," Threepenny Review (Winter 1988).
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