John Berger fotografato nel 1966, sei anni prima che pubblicasse questo romanzo. Come non lo sono suo padre e sua madre: personaggi abbastanza ordinari che niente hanno da spartire con i protagonisti presenti nelle altre opere narrative di Berger, epici e sovrumani, pur se inseriti negli ultimi gradini della scala sociale. Ma anche nel corso delle sue avventure amoroso-erotiche, Berger è così poco stimolato dal suo personaggio centrale, da immergersi piuttosto nellanima delle donne conquistate e assumerne il punto di vista, siano esse lindimenticabile Beatrice, la zia che inizia il giovane nipote (il sogno di tutti noi maschietti?), la cameriera Leonie, Mathilde, Madame Camille Hennequin... In pratica, la storia di questo novello Don Giovanni viene raccontata dal punto di vista delle persone sedotte, invece che del seduttore. Non perché Berger veda nelle sedotte delle vittime, fortunatamente, non ci sono né vittime né eroi negli incontri a due di questo romanzo. La mia impressione è che questo romanzo, peraltro il più fortunato nella carriera letteraria di John Berger, premiato col prestigioso Booker Prize, sia più vicino alla sua produzione saggistica che narrativa: se non altro tutte le volte che lautore sale in cattedra, sceglie di spiegare e di motivare, di insegnare. Di Cézanne Berger scrisse: Partiamo dal nero che si trova in molte delle sue prime opere, quando aveva tra i venti e i trent anni. È un nero come non ce ne sono altri nella storia della pittura.
Parts of this are beautifully written, especially the descriptions relating to the early aviators. G inherits his father's wealth, is seduced by a female relative at 14 and pretty much wanders through life in an amoral way until the redemptive ending when he works for Italy in Trieste in the war. There are similarities with some stream of consciouness novels and I noted flashes of Proustian description, especially in the descriptions of blackberries and the symbolic way particular blackberries represent all blackberries.
He must have lost his parents or, at least, lost any close contact with them, and no foster-parents should have taken their place. Being in love is an elaborate state of anticipation for the continual exchanging of certain kinds of gifts. The state of being in love was usually short-lived except in unhappy cases of unrequited love.
the painting (book) is interesting because of its subject matter; 2. the painting (book) is interesting because of the way it is written; and 3. Most readers look for stories so it is no wonder that many of the 5-star ratings here are given to those books falling under No. 1. I say that those falling under No. 2 are often the most difficult to appreciate; those under No. 3, often the most insipid and boring; and those under No. 1 often the most easy to read and give the most satisfaction (unless the reader hates the subject matter). A reader, for example, who is always expecting books to be under No. 1 will definitely hate those he reads which reveal themselves in the end to be either under No. 2 or No. 3. Here, for example, is one about blackberries (the fruit, not the phone) and sexual experience-- "Why does writing about sexual experience reveal so strikingly what may be a general limitation of literature in relation to aspects of all experience? The advantage of this example is that one's first experience each year of eating blackberries has in it an element of artificial firstness which may prompt one's memory of the original, first occasion. Extreme single-mindedness accompanies sexual desire. Because the other who is palpable and unique between one's arms is--at least for a few instants--exclusively desired, she or he represents, without qualification or discrimination, life itself. "Applied to the central moment of sex, all written nouns denote their objects in such a way that they reject the meaning of the experience to which they are meant to apply. "The same words written in reported speech--either swearing or describing--acquire a different character and lose their italics, because they then refer to the speaker speaking and not directly to acts of sex. At the centre of sexual experience, the object--because it is exclusively desired--is transformed and becomes universal. The one who has received a higher education at the hands of the imperial power (for there is no other education available) is aware of how consistently his own people's history and culture have been denied, and he values in his own family the vestiges of the traditions which have been suppressed; at the same time the other members of the family may see in him a leader against their foreign oppressors whom until now they have only been able to fear and hate dumbly.
Following this line of thought I remembered that Giuseppe is an Italian variant of the Hebrew name Joseph (Son of Jacob, the one with the many-coloured coat) because the name means one who enlarges but it all seems a bit tenuous because G is more of a Don Juan than a proper spy. The plot (such as it is) will gradually emerge, and with it will come the sense that the affairs of men which seem of such importance to the people involved are insignificant beside the grand events in history which form a backdrop.
The instructor of the class asked what book I had. I said G., a novel by Jon Berger. Oh, he said, he was familiar with Berger's art criticism but didn't realize the man wrote novels. The style is highly digressive, at times making it as much a collection of essays as a novel. In my view, Berger is able to avoid this by the sheer depth of his commitments, his fidelity to what he sees and understands in the world. This book is often labeled "postmodern," and not totally without reason given its style; still Berger's preoccupation are more properly seen as modernist. Here is a boy discovering pleasures in his body for the first time The mystery which inflames him and at night in bed stiffens his penis leads the boy to ask a number of questions.
was really the first one that seemed straight-up sexist. I suppose that's part of the book's narrator, a wealthy vagabond who starts having his eyes opened by class consciousness. really sees women as things to sleep with without consequence, and when that gets shoved down your throat repeatedly enough you start to forget that it is just supposed to be the narrator and not see it seeping into the worldview of the book itself. Some parts of the novel still stick with me (his treatment of the airplane trip), which reflects that even in a book I did not like, his gift and his ability to twist political thought into actual literature (as opposed to being a pamphlet dressed up as fiction -- not that there's anything wrong with that). But I think the so-called experimental style gets in the way of the novel's purpose.
So I sent somebody, a writer (a better writer than me, in fact), an email not too long ago about how I was loving this book by John Berger called G. I say all that to set up this, the bulleted list I sent to said better-writer-than-me regarding John Berger's stunning book, G.: Things I Love About G.
won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a college text.