18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2011
John Berger's years of writing about art and life are well known. As he has aged his books have become more free, allowing him to follow his train of thought wherever it leads - to love, politics, and questions he himself is unsure how to answer. Bento's sketchbook is drawn from Berger's own experiences, especially those connected with drawing, and the philosophy of Baruch (Bento) Spinoza. Spinoza stood in opposition to the Cartesian view that separated the logical from the spiritual and, unsurpprisingly, is an excellent fit to Berger's own outlook. This book is well illustrated with Berger's own drawings (Spinoza's do not appear to have survived) and is laden with thoughts fully- or half-formed, just waiting to be taken up by the reader. Highly recommended.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2011
I love everything this man writes, and this latest book, just out November 8, 2011, brings together all the many threads of his life, his art, his political philosophy, and his great great heart. Bento's Sketchbook (subtitled How Does the Impulse to Draw Something Begin?) contains ink-and-spit drawings, quotations from Spinoza (the Bento of the title), and stories of real people: everywhere John Berger's eye touches the Earth. I have bought copies for everyone I love: it's the kind of book you can open anywhere, read one story, put it down in order to assimilate the deeper and deeper layers of awareness Berger brings into focus, and know you will want to re-read many times. Each page contains perceptions that make me stop and breathe in the world around me with more empathy, more appreciation, more sorrow and more hope of redemption.
If you don't know John Berger's work, this is a wonderful place to begin. If you do, you will not want to miss this gift from a man in his 80s who has lived his life with such passion and integrity.
on January 9, 2014
Berger's characteristic tenderness and close scrutiny of humanity 'sketched' in the vignettes and drawings inspired by his personal life, in a synthesis with the philosophical patience and apercus from Spinoza ; both enlarge the mind with their unquestionable integrity of beliefs and acts towards their countrymen. I am not an artist but for me, a retired high school teacher, the book is unforgettable.