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200 × 130 × 15 mm
224 pages
18 illustrations
01 Mar 2012
Critical Lives

John Berger Andrew Merrifield

Characterized by an independent, anti-institutional approach to creativity, British essayist, novelist and art critic John Berger has been an inspiring force in mainstream and alternative culture alike. His groundbreaking book of art criticism, Ways of Seeing, accompanied a four-part BBC television series that presented a radical new interpretation of Western cultural aesthetics and the study of images. In the same year, Berger’s experimental novel G. was awarded the Booker Prize for fiction, extending his reputation as a boundary-pushing writer and thinker.

In this account of Berger’s work and way of life in the French Savoy countryside, Andy Merrifield sheds light on Berger the man, the artist and the concerned citizen. Berger is a figure who strives constantly to open up new possibilities while also infusing even his most intellectual work with deep feeling. Berger sees reality like the irrationalist Rousseau, yet is also a meticulous realist, probing objects as critically and rationally as Spinoza. Stitching together art, literature and politics, this book is a freewheeling narrative that offers fascinating insights into one of the most respected thinkers of our time.

To read and download a PDF of the introduction from the book please click here.

‘An illuminating new take on John Bergers wide-ranging work, and the ideas and people that have helped shape his books and diverse collaborations.’ — Mike Dibb, filmmaker and Director of the BBC TV series Ways of Seeing

‘An affectionate and readable study, it examines Berger mostly through the lens of his books, the dense interpretation occasionally enriched with biographical asides.’ — Art Newspaper

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Andy Merrifield is an educator and writer. His books include Dialectical Urbanism: Social Struggles in the Capitalist City (Monthly Review Press, 2002), Metromarxism: A Marxist Tale of the City (Routledge, 2002) Guy Debord (Reaktion Books, 2005), Magical Marxism (2011) and John Berger (Reaktion, 2012).

Introduction: The Blackbird, the Badger and the King

1. Seeing Eye
2. G. and Un-G.
3. Van Gogh's Boots
4. Showing Voice
5. Animal Humanism
6. Amongst Other Things a Marxist
7. About Time and Space
8. Confronting Walls
9. Spinoza's Motorbike

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Photo Acknowledgements