Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 14 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
The Shape of a Pocket has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Clean book with no notable flaws. Eligible for FREE prime shipping!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Shape of a Pocket Paperback – March 11, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$16.00
$7.13 $0.92

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
$16.00 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 14 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Shape of a Pocket
  • +
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Total price: $27.08
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This volume collects more recent essays that first appeared in a variety of languages in publications in Zurich, Madrid, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Helsinki and London. Since very few readers, even Berger fanatics, will have the linguistic skills to have experienced these texts in their original translated versions, it is useful to have them collected and available here in English. The 24 essays include impressions of artists such as Rembrandt, Degas, Michelangelo, Kahlo and Brancusi. There are the familiar farmyard observations from Berger as the rural dweller in the French Alps. Others, like the one titled "The Chauvet Cave" after a French site of prehistoric art, seem diffuse and free-form rather than focusing on a single subject. On Rembrandt, Berger is in his element, as if speaking about someone he knew personally: "obstinate, dogmatic, cunning, capable of a kind of brutality. Do not let us turn him into a saint." Some of the essays integrate the author's now-shaky memory, as when he writes, "I have the impression, that just after Brancusi's death in 1957, I visited his studio...." And he manages to get off yet another shot against his pet peeve Francis Bacon, in whose art, according to Berger, "pain is watched through a screen, like soiled linen being watched through the round window of a washing machine." Such overstrenuous attacks on a demonstrably major painter are tedious, but most of the present book, integrating the author's own aging and physical decay, rings as true as the rest of his much-appreciated work. (Dec. 28) Forecast: This book is a sure thing for Berger's regular readers and for larger campus art collections. For an extra $8.50, though, casual readers may prefer to pick up the above Selected, revealing the writer in his fierce prime and providing more than twice as much material.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

For some fifty years, the reclusive British writer John Berger has thought a great deal about art and artists, and this collection of essays includes a moving tribute to Frida Kahlo and a brilliant meditation on the achievement of the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. But everything Berger has written—essays, novels, criticism, screenplays—has been filled with his passionate concern for what used to be called the state of man. That preoccupation is on every page here, whether he is recalling the patience of Antonio Gramsci or discussing Degas's nudes. When Berger was young, his urgent left-wing politics sometimes thrust him into the role of provocateur. Now he is no less committed to making the hidden visible, but his sensibility has widened and deepened; his exegesis of the significance for us of the Fayum portraits, discovered in Egypt in the late eighteen-hundreds, is especially piercing. Berger is one of the few writers who answer questions we don't know to ask.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375718885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375718885
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Darrow on April 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
David Mamet wrote "Three Uses of a Knife: The Nature and Purpose of Drama." This Book should be called "The shape of a Pocket: The Nature and Purpose of Art." Because they are dialogues, or letters, written to artists who are long gone, these essays have far more weight than a simple analysis of Van Gogh or Yves Klein. I would say that the one problem, if there were to be a problem, would be Berger's emotional investment. Some of the essays get lost in admiration - causing the reader to question why the essay was written in the first place - But overall, this is a riveting collection, and a must for anyone interested in contemporary art and its societal role.
Comment 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read. All of Berger's writing is provocative, but this collection is particularly marvelous. I find myself picking this book up to read and reread the essays, over the years. It is a book that fills the heart, engages the mind, and changes one's way of seeing.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
"The Shape of a Pocket" is perfect bedside reading: the essays are short, meditative and carefully crafted. Berger's prose is pure and airy, and only occasionally he trespasses into the contrived and nearly bombastic. That's irritating but understandable as Berger is constantly trying to get to the deeper layers of what it means to make sense of the world through the 'act' of painting. I suppose Berger, on reading these lines, would remark that conceptualising 'to paint' as an 'act' is completely besides the point. Indeed, what he tries to get across is the 'receiving' nature of being-in-the-world as a painter. Being a real artist is a balancing act: it's a state of dynamic equilibrium between 'self' and 'world', between banality and madness. I believe Berger; his writing breathes integrity and wisdom. He has seen things that many mortals only have faint intimations of. That being said I am less sure about the appropriateness of his insights spilling over into the political realm. The complexity of globalisation is, perhaps, of a different nature than the complexity of a brush stroke. I think it shows, in Berger's language: suddenly the delicacy - holographic in its suggestion of colour, depth and texture - evaporates and we are left with the dull taste of cliche and ideology.
Comment 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This book is prose, poetry and the most personal, intelegent and non linear art writing I have read so far- I also recommend John Berger's Sense of Sight.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As usual Berger did not disappoint. I enjoy reading any and all of his writings and esp this one . very relevant to todays world which often seems to be tipped on it's head.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Metaphysical and though-provoking. John Berger has an eloquence to say things all artists have only just begun to talk about.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The Shape of a Pocket
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: The Shape of a Pocket