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Ways of Telling: Work of John Berger [Anglais] [Relié]

Geoff Dyer


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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Unacclaimed Master: Reading John Berger 6 juillet 2000
Par Eric J. Steger - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Since the early 1950's, John Berger has authored an almost dizzying number of works on art history, art criticism, fiction and politics, as well as a large body of writing that seems to defy categorization altogether. And that is why one can't help but feel a kind of admiration for Geoff Dyer's courage to take on, for his first full-length book, a difficult critical subject and author in Ways of Telling: The Work of John Berger.
Although Dyer clearly sees Berger and his work as massively influential yet nearly always overlooked by his peers and contemporaries, it is obvious that Ways of Telling is a great deal more than a mere reaffirmation of, or a critical love letter to, an illustrious writer and his sometimes ground-breaking work. In Ways of Telling, Dyer looks carefully at the broad spectrum of Berger's career, from articles on politics and aesthetics during the early 1950's published in Socialist newspapers and magazines, to novels written in the mid-1980's. Perhaps because Dyer intended (one could plausibly surmise) Ways of Telling to be not only an academic critique but a work written for a slightly wider readership, we are invited to take a closer look at several of Berger's more universally known works. These include G, an historical novel influenced by Socialist Realism and according to Dyer, possibly inspired by the Cubist movement as well. We look at A Painter of Our Time, Berger's breakthrough novel about the struggle between the moral imperative of being true to one's creative gifts versus fidelity to one's political beliefs. Scrutiny is also given to the near-canonical Ways of Seeing, both the BBC television series and the widely-read 1972 book of the same name. Dyer is quick to acknowledge that although the polemical, class-based attack on consumer-driven capitalism and "the authority of property" by way of a beautifully written critique of Western Art is often crudely drawn in Ways of Seeing. One might miss the point entirely if one chooses to ignore the manner in which Berger's sharp sense of aesthetics and his critical eye opened the floodgates to what is now the standard method for looking at art for an ever-widening audience.
No doubt it is a tall order for any reader, or writer to separate John Berger's Democratic-Socialist and Humanist value systems from much of his work, Dyer reminds the reader that any attempt to do so is pointless and probably an unnecessary exercise. To quote Dyer " He is a great writer, but the quality of his work is important, finally, not for what it reveals of him but for what it enables us to glimpse of ourselves, of what we might become-and of the culture that might afford him the recognition that it is due."
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