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A Painter of Our Time Paperback – August 27, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679737235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679737230
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,398,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Praise for From A to X John Berger has found a voice perfectly fitted to express an emotional sincerity quite rare in fiction at the momentA" Ursula le Guin, Guardian This is a book of controlled rage sculpted with tools of tenderness and a searing political vision.A" Arundhati Roy on From A to X One of the most tender and poignant books I have read for many years. Its power rests in its economy of means, its account of enduring love surviving oppression.A" Harold Pinter The record of one restless, committed, brilliant consciousness; a late showcase of a mind and sensibility of astonishing range and depth.A" Melissa Benn, Independent " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

This visionary first novel by the Booker Prize-winning author of To the Wedding and G. is at once a gripping intellectual and moral detective story and a book whose aesthetic insights make it a companion piece to John Berger's great works of art criticism.

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a fine artist, I find few things more laughable than the manner in which people in my profession are depicted by writers. How romantic it all sounds! To live in pain for the love of art, expressing one's exotic soul, only to eventually to disintegrate and die in obscurity.
The reality to living as an artist is rather more prosaic than what the writers tell us. The issues an artist faces to produce artwork are far less emotional than what the layman would believe.
Here, for the first -- and as far as I know -- the only time, is a novel which accurately reflects the lifestyle and technical considerations of the typical working artist: a highly skilled professional without a "name". This book says it all.
And it says it with great finesse. Beyond its veracity to the profession, Painter of Our Time is both a well written story and compelling character study of an aging man in a less than perfect marriage.
The one exotic aspect to the story's main character, is that he is a politically committed hungarian refugee living in post-war London. Written in the form of a journal, the artist is haunted by the memory of a dead friend, as he struggles with low income and an indifferent wife.
Some readers may have a problem with the book's heavy emphasis on old school communist doctrine (as I did), but if you can get past this, you will find this a thoroughly absorbing, thoroughly accurate work about what it means to be an artist.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
"A Painter of Our Time" is one of the most thought-provoking novels I have read. It contains many insightful reflections on art, philosophy, and politics. In addition, the international setting and the unexplained disappearance of the principal character at the beginning of the story combine to generate the kind of suspense that is characteristic of a classic mystery by Graham Greene. The ambiguities do not end there. A dialectical tension between art and politics, between representational art and abstract art, and between Marxist politics and bourgeois politics is sustained throughout the novel. If the principal character has, in fact, returned to his homeland to join the political struggle there, it is not at all clear which side of the struggle he has joined. The philosophical underpinnings of the book might be better appreciated by a reader who is already familiar with "Ways of Seeing" or other nonfiction books by the same author. But it is not necessary to have a background in philosophy or art theory to enjoy the story. The visual qualities of the book alone would make it an excellent candidate for an award-winning film if it were not for the anti-intellectual prejudice of the American film audience. Although such a film would undoubtedly be a commercial success in Europe, the absence of conspicuous consumption, gratuitous sex, and spectacular violence would doom it to obscurity in this country. So, don't hold your breath waiting for the film to arrive. Read the book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. J MOSS on October 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Berger's luminous intelligence, his passion, his capacity to imagine, is one of the joys of my life. That he wrote,'A Painter on Our Time' in the mid 1950s reveals his prodigal vision ( a moment, incidentally, when he made the crucial career decision to opt for writing over painting, on the basis that he could reach further & more powerfully in print). Odd, for me, that I have so recently come to this, his initial, published work.It is as prescient as ever; the dilemna of the creative stirrings in a being, the dilemna between art & life, searchingly and exactingly laid out in the journals of his fictional, Hungarian, self-exiled painter. His social conscience, his memory, his ambitions are convincingly unpacked, and with the narrator as guide and amplifier to these confessions, we journey to where we know from the books early pages,Lavin's return to tumultuous Hungary. Berger wrote an afterword to the book in 1988, disclosing, amongst other things, the actual friends who inspired his fictional artist. With them he had shared the sense that pain is the source of human imagination. It is not to be avoided, refused, repressed, and regarded as undignified. In mid-career, Berger opted out of the hurly burly of the English media to embrace the underprivileged peasant lives of a small, French mountain community, from where he has written about their lives with the penetrating sympathy he demonstrated in his fictional Hungarian. For more on art visit>rodmoss.com
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Berger is a new writer for me, and so far (this book and one other), a treat. I have only a general knowledge of the well-known painters, but found the interpretive sections interesting and generally accessible for an interested layman - sufficiently so that I believe I will tackle some of Berger's art essays next.
Besides the observations on painting, A Painter of Our Time interests as a character study, in its examination of the relationship of each of us to his past, and the question of how well we know each other. A small, quiet gem, it rings true throughout - especially as a first novel. I wouldn't say I couldn't put it down, but I didn't want to.
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