John Berger: ‘If I’m a storyteller it’s because I listen’ By Kate Kellaway

On 5 November, John Berger will turn 90. As I travel to Paris to meet him, I carry a bagful of books. There are recently published art historical writings, Portraits, and, to coincide with his 90th birthday, Landscapes (judiciously selected by Tom Overton for Verso), a fascinating series of encounters with the thinkers who have mattered to Berger, from Brecht and Walter Benjamin to Rosa Luxemburg. A marvellous miscellany of more recent work, Confabulations, has just been published by Penguin, and A Jar of Wild Flowers: Essays in Celebration of John Berger (including tributes from Ali Smith, Sally Potter and Julie Christie) is coming soon from Zed books.

The homage continues on film in The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger, shot during his late 80s – a collage of informal conversation and political discussion, with offerings by Tilda Swinton, the writer and producer Colin MacCabe and others. It was shot in the hamlet in Haute-Savoie, in the French Alps, where Berger lived for more than 40 years. These jostling admirers show not only that the man is greatly loved, but an intellectual indebtedness behind the wish to say thank you. Critic, novelist, poet, dramatist, artist, commentator – and, above all, storyteller – Berger was described by Susan Sontag as peerless in his ability to make “attentiveness to the sensual world” meet “imperatives of conscience”. His book Ways of Seeing, and the 1972 BBC television series based on it, changed the way at least two generations responded to art. And his writing since then – especially about migration – has changed the way many of us see the world.


Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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