A Painter of Our Time

ISBN: 0679737235
ISBN 13: 9780679737230
By: John Berger

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About this book

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.

Reader's Thoughts

Catherine Siemann

This novel is told in two voices: that of Janos Lavin, a Hungarian exile artist who has been living and working in London, and who disappears shortly after his first major success, a one-man exhibition, and "John," an art critic and friend. "John" reproduces a diary of Janos's, written during the final year before his disappearance, and intersperses it with his own memories of Janos's life and work, and their friendship. John's portions are more story-driven; Janos's diary entries are as interested in recording his thoughts on art and politics as they are in narration. Highly recommended.


I picked up this tattered paperback, bought and first read years ago, as an antidote for the sour taste left in my mouth by Peter Heller's recent book, The Painter. Berger created a real painter, whereas Heller's character merely wears the garb. Heller's character can no more actually paint than I could.Berger himself was a painter, but gave it up. I can imagine him doing so for both prosaic reasons -- like the difficulty of affording supplies and studio space -- and because through writing he could be more supportive of left-wing causes. His swansong to painting was his first novel: A Painter of Our time. It's not an autobiographical novel -- except perhaps for the descriptions of the paintings themselves. Berger, in his late twenties or early 30s, successfully imagined the life of a 60 year old artist from Eastern Europe, an expat who fled the muddle of his country's political upheaval, who abandoned the revolutionary causes of his youth. Yet, in his exile he thinks about this constantly and weighs that decision against the progress he is making with his art. He questions: is making art revolutionary? And if so, is it enough?Bottom line: a brilliant book. A reread and a keeper on my diminishing shelf of re-readables.


Dagboekaantekeningen van Janos Lavin, een (fictieve) geëmigreerde Hongaarse kunstenaar. Bevat interessante kunsttheoretische bespiegelingen, geeft stof tot nadenken. Zware kost.


spectacular early novel, very controversial--a joy to read.

Editorial Alfaguara

Londres, 1958. El pintor h�ngaro Janos Lavin ha huido sin dejar rastro horas despu�s de la inauguraci�n de su primera exposici�n individual. Ni su mujer ni sus amigos comprenden por qu� se ha marchado justo cuando alcanzaba el �xito por el que llevaba luchando tantos a�os. Sin embargo, todas las claves est�n en el diario que Lavin ha dejado tras de s�... Una novela provocadora y comprometida, Un pintor de hoy es el retrato de un hombre atormentado por el recuerdo de un amigo muerto, que se debate entre su fidelidad al arte y a la pol�tica mientras intenta mantener la fe en el ser humano. Pero adem�s y sobre todo, es un viaje apasionante al interior de la creaci�n art�stica. Pintor y novelista, el brit�nico John Berger, ganador del prestigioso Booker Prize, nos sorprende en la que fue su primera novela con una narraci�n desbordante de autenticidad, desgarradora y tierna por momentos. Una novela sobre la libertad, el sacrificio y lo que significa ser un artista hoy en d�a. (Traducci�n Pilar V�zquez)


A convincing portrait. I wish I could see The Games in real life. I'm sure there were several emigre-painters like Mr. Lavin living in 20th century Western Europe. Their stories need to be told, and this book does exactly that: tells a story, a deceivingly simple one, about the reality of detachment and displacement, and the ruminations of an artist whose experience was as profound as it was rich.

Erik Yaeger

I am missing my copy of this book and looking for a quote about the reference to "the world's best violinist playing on the side of the river while someone is drowning..." Looking for a copy of that quote, that I wrote in a notebook that is now in storage, I would like to share it with somebody...

Marek Słodkowski

An inspiring novel, both in form and in content, from the master that is John Berger.

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