John Berger

Literary Birthday – 5 November – John Berger

John Berger was born 5 November 1926 and died 2 January 2017.


  1. If every event which occurred could be given a name, there would be no need for stories.
  2. When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.
  3. Words are so often used in the opposite sense, as a screen of diversion. It’s the struggle towards truthfulness which is the same whether one is writing a poem, a novel, or an argument.
  4. Autobiography begins with a sense of being alone. It is an orphan form.
  5. Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and in this hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.
  6. To be desired is perhaps the closest anybody in this life can reach to feeling immortal.
  7. I wanted to write about looking at the world, so it’s more about helping people, or persuading people, to see what is around us; both the marvellous and the terrible.
  8. The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying.
  9. I have never thought of writing as a profession. It is a solitary independent activity in which practice can never bestow seniority.
  10. All publicity works upon anxiety.
  11. It can happen that a book, unlike its authors, grows younger as the years pass.
  12. Hope is a contraband passed from hand to hand and story to story.

John Berger was an English art critic, novelist, painter and poet. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, is often used as a university text.

Source for Image

Ji-Elle, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 5th November 2015