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G.: A Novel Paperback – January 8, 1992


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fascinating...an extraordinary mixture of historical detail and sexual meditation...G. belongs in the tradition of George Eliot, Tolstoy, D. H. Lawrence and Norman Mailer." -- The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

In this luminous novel -- winner of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize -- John Berger relates the story of "G.," a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the Don Juan's success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their moments with him. All of this Berger sets against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi and the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War, and the first flight across the Alps, making G. a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in history's private moments.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 8, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736547
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Berger was born in London in 1926. He is well known for his novels and stories as well as for his works of nonfiction, including several volumes of art criticism. His first novel, A Painter of Our Time, was published in 1958, and since then his books have included the novel G., which won the Booker Prize in 1972. In 1962 he left Britain permanently, and he lives in a small village in the French Alps.

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "tksc" on April 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
What is fascinating about this book is how Berger tells the story of the modern Don Juan (Don Giovanni) from the perspective of the seduced. Instead of telling the heroic tail of the 'conquests,' Berger focuses on the reception of seduction. Rather, seduction is a two-way street. "He" is the seducer--but so are his partners. They all come with interesting stories.
The 'protagonist' is uninteresting; he's not even all that attractive. Yet, Berger isn't all that interested in why G. would be attractive for so many women. Here there are no heroes and no victims. In sex there is the encounter of two: 'who' they are isn't reducible to status and power; rather, it is the activity of anticipation, the clamouring, the lust, the mutual surrender, and the tenderness of fleeting moments.
Such moments are told against the backdrop of an astute historical understanding of the role of the sexes. Berger obliterates our preconceptions of sex-roles, our unconscious historical memories, by focusing on the mutual nature of passion.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
The main character - or should I say protaganist- of this book is not particularly interesting or endearing.But the story in its narrative form is compelling.The writer describes the events partly as an historian and partly as an author but then compounds events by addressing the reader with the first person - as though he personally was a witness not only to the events but to the personal emotions of the characters as well. There is much wisdom in this book - not in a cosy way, but in defining life and its intricacies, reminding us of events in our own lives but making us remember those events as exceptional-which I suppose - is the basis of romance. One is engaged with the author whilst we learn about G -closer to the author than the character. G's quest is ultimately pointless, as he single mindedly trawls through his life, marked only by physical conquests - doomed through lust and avarice - his sincerity is faulted, he lives only for now - ultimately he has no vision.
We learn not from his actions but from the authors descriptions and eloquent prose - that there is magic in life, that our experiences count for everything.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard Pittman on January 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm at a bit of a loss on what to say about G. It's about a character obsessed with sexual conquest who, as a result doesn't notice the world around him.

The hero (so to speak), G, lives in interesting times with interesting events occurring around him. In these times, he focuses on completely on sexual conquest and truly falls in love with his conquests in the moment and then moves on.

The author is the powerful presence as opposed to G who appropriately isn't in control.

It's not a bad read and the events surrounding G make a good contrast to what might otherwise be a bit tiresome.

It was released in the 1970s and although it is about an earlier time, the attitude towards sex brought to mind the 70s. I'm not sure I can explain it better than that.

I liked it enough but it's a bit of an odd book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Witold on January 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It always seemed to me that the task of novel writing included a cohesive development of a long story. However, in this particular case, a very talented and intelligent author delivered a pastiche of fragments of varied length and often rather questionable quality. I found the reading process extremely exhausting. If you are looking for a well-paced and intelligently written narrative don't read this book. It gets a little better around page 140 when you are just about ready to give up. However, it doesn't lead anywhere. I am a very tolerant reader (some fragments of the books are actually even interesting and the writing itself actually consistently intelligent, alhtough often too dense) but as a novel this book is a complete disaster. It should be called "G. An Awkwardly Disjointed Pastiche About a Sex Addict and Politics". Not a novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This dense, philosophical Booker Prize-winning novel of ideas took six years to write. Appearing in 1972, it follows the amorous adventures of an Italian-English gentleman as he seduces, from a predictably precocious age, many women. Yet, this Don Juan, for me, lacks appeal. His encounters, recounted by an intrusive and omniscient narrator, intersperse with eloquent meditations on sexuality, eroticism, love, and desire as a construct trapping or freeing men and women in late 19th and early 20th century Europe.

Berger's mix of reflection and fiction may not flow lightly, but it moves often dazzlingly. The distance that the author places between himself and "G" serves to keep the reader apart from the characters, and G's lovers come and go suddenly, without conventional seductions followed by affairs ended by breakups. You get their couplings in fragmented, often very evocative and momentarily graphic depictions. But, without the aftermath, what accrues are episodes from G.'s love life, mixed with narrative reflection, historical and political mini-essays, and an account of the times from both a bourgeois and a proletarian perspective.

The result's better cited in its prose, so below I give examples of Berger's success. While I found many parts uninvolving, such as Chavez' first flight over the Alps, the accounts of rebellions and the WWI glimpses held my attention much more, not to mention many sensuous moments. But, this novel, in its fragmented nature and editorial intrusion, may put off readers rather than get them off.

It's a heady experience, nonetheless, for the more intellectually minded reader wanting philosophy mixed with affairs if not of the heart than of the groin.
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