ISBN: 2879292891
ISBN 13: 9782879292892
By: John Berger

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Reader's Thoughts


I just remembered this novel again, thinking about the Booker Prize (it won in 1972), because of how experimental and sort of 1960s 'psychodelic and surreal'. It deals with the feelings post-WW1 of a caddish guy, how he begins to see the and understand the world more clearly afterwards, a world where WWI is clearly a definite demarcation line. I remember that it impressed me at the time, though the writing wasn't 'my thing' at all.

Linda Blake

It won the Booker Prize, so I guess I just didn't get it. The non-linearity disturbed me and the flight off topic confused me. Maybe if I were more interested in the political history, I would have understood it. I usually get literary allusions, but the ones in this book evaded me.


G is a very interesting but somewhat strange novel; well deserving of the Booker it won for beautiful prose and some great paragraphs about relationships - among the best introspective descriptions of people in a romantic and erotic context and not only I've read.The structure in paragraphs linked in a whole as well as the authorial insertion about this or that works well despite the seeming scattering in the beginning.G the main hero is a mystery almost to the end and he is reflected through women and violent events he is mostly a bystander until they engulf himHighly recommendedFBC Rv:INTRODUCTION: Sometime ago I stumbled by chance upon a remark that "G" by John Berger is the strangest book to have won the Man Booker prize (in 1972), not to speak of the author's acceptance speech that became notorious. I was curious and after I checked and liked the excerpt from "Amazon read inside" above, I finally got the book."Winner of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize, John Berger's "G". relates the story of a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. Berger sets his novel against the turbulent backdrop of Garibaldi and the failed revolution of Milanese workers in 1898, the Boer War, and the first flight across the Alps, making "G". a brilliant novel about the search for intimacy in history's private moments."ANALYSIS: As storyline goes, G is a modern interpretation of the classical Don Juan story but from the perspective of several of the women involved. G. himself - the illegitimate son of a rich but strange English girl and a conventional Italian businessman - is seen through the eyes of the women, the narrator who inserts his comments here and there and only sometimes directly, this last especially in the midst of violent events at which he is essentially a bystander until they engulf him.Hypnotic and quite un-intelligible either by the men in his circle who mostly dislike and even hate him, or by the women who are mostly fascinated despite themselves, G remains a mystery to the end with his actions confounding everyone expectations. The book is worth reading for this unexpected moments, though of course it has more strengths. The prose is just beautiful and on many occasions mesmerizing and the introspective descriptions of people in a romantic and erotic context are among the best I've ever read."G" focuses on several key moments: Garibaldi's Italian saga and the early years of the modern Italian state are interlinked with G's conception and childhood, The Boer War coincides with G's sexual awakening, a 1910 aviation first with some of G's conquests as a young man and the Great War with G's apotheosis so to speak... G himself looks for the strange, in women and events, so for example one of his "conquests" is interesting for him only as long as her husband is threatening to shoot him...The novel has an unusual structure with paragraphs linked in a whole as well as authorial insertions about this or that; overall the structure works well despite the seeming scattering in places, though it requires constant attention to detail. The combination of personal and historical, story and authorial musings give the novel its "interesting-ness" flavor that I appreciate a lot and I am highly recommending it for a very rewarding and entertaining reading experience.

Alex Rendall

I find it very difficult to adequately summarise John Berger’s G. This may partially be due to the difficulty in categorising John Berger, who can at once be described as a painter, art critic, novelist, essayist and sociologist. Berger has contributed much to a number of varied fields and his knowledge of multiple subject areas imbues his work. G. is a sweeping novel that spans genres and at times appears to blur the lines between fiction and fact.The novel begins in Italy in 1898 and follows the life of the eponymous G. across Europe, as he loves then leaves a succession of women. Written in the picaresque genre (by definition a novel which follows a rakish character in his or her exploits, such as Don Juan or Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders), the narrative at times backs away from G. to focus on the historical or political situation in Europe at the time. Berger also sometimes breaks from the story completely to discuss abstract concepts with the reader, such as the appreciation of the female form or the expression of love. At times he uses ‘I’ to break down the barrier between himself and the reader and bring himself into the tale, rather than being a purely incidental third person narrator. I confess that I found these forays into Berger’s philosophy to be quite distracting from the development of the narrative. Whether Berger intended for this to be the effect is unclear, but I feel that rather than adding an extra layer of meaning to the work this comes across as baffling in its pretentiousness.This is an accusation that I would level at the novel as a whole. The lack of coherence between these breaks and the central tale render the narrative disjointed and unfocussed. Perhaps if I knew more about artistic theory I might appreciate some of these abstract meditations, but they are incomprehensible to the layman and make the novel seem opaque and inaccessible. Other elements of Berger’s story are disappointing. G.’s tale unfolds at unerringly different paces; Berger at times spends pages describing a single afternoon, building up a truly beautiful descriptive picture of a scene, but then spoils it by rushing crucial elements of the story (G.’s death in particular feels like an after-thought that was hurried along in order to meet a publisher’s deadline). The sweeping historical viewpoint, while at times interesting, has a didactic air about it which gives Berger the feel of a lecturer attempting to impose his views on his readers rather than independently presenting the narrative. At times I felt that Berger was attempting to tell me how to think, to convince me that only his world view was the correct one. I didn’t understand elements of what he was trying to say but I am not the type of person who enjoys having views imposed upon me!G. is not an unsatisfying read. If one ignores the frequent deviations from the plot and takes the story at face value, it is fairly entertaining. I doubt however that this is all that Berger intended for his work and, given the number of awards that it won, I suspect I may have missed something important that critics with greater knowledge than I were able to interpret. I think that it has all the charm of an epic blockbuster movie; it may be massive in scope and may have won lots of plaudits, but I found it impossible to warm to in the same way as other novels. G. is not the kind of book that one can curl up with and enjoy; it sees itself as being far too grand for that.

Melanie Campbell

This was the first John Berger book I read. I picked it up in high school randomly while working at Borders. I've been hooked ever since. It would be interesting to go back and reread this particular book, since I've been slowly making my way through his other books for the last 15 years.


A truly weird book. Combines the history of the late 19th and early 20th century - specifically, Italy and the Balkans, and the working class and nationalist politics that would help lead to the War - with one man's sexual conquests, not to mention numerous philosophical asides by Berger on topics ranging from death to art to sex. It doesn't quite all hang together, its more of a mosaic of ideas, but fascinating ones at that. Definitely the weirdest book to win the Booker - capped off by Berger's speech at the awards ceremony where he denounced the Man-Booker company's role on the slave trade and West Indian colonialism, and donated half his prize money to the British Black Panther party, keeping half to himself to write his peasant trilogy, Into their Labours. Recommended, but reader beware.


Six books in and I've just discovered this series from The Guardian on looking back at the Booker Prize winners. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/books...Of G., they say that "[it] is worth reading just for its vertiginous description of the first crossing of the Alps by plane, its crushing examples of the first world war's futile slaughter and a barnstorming rendition of the Milan riots of 1898. The latter scene culminates in a suave refusal to finish describing the slaughter because stopping where he does is "to admit more of the truth". I have to say, I partially agree. Where the novel most speaks to me is in these moments of description. How did a town mourn the death of a pilot? What were street riots like in Italy? How does scandal play out in the upper classes?Berger makes some incredibly frustrating statements about women, and their identity as individual. Often it is discussed that a woman takes on the mantel of wife/mother/lover, and has to act in these roles. And these roles define who she is. With observations such as these, I found myself constantly amazed that this novel was published in the 1970s. So then, is Berger writing women as they were treated in the time of this book... Or commenting on modern women?The narrative style got confusing for me, but eventually it made more sense. I kept asking myself who was narrating the story though. At times omniscient, at times commenting on the thoughts, feelings and futures of his characters, at times discussing how critics describe his (Berger's?) writing, I was just never quite sure who was telling this story. And so many, which had an impact on G.'s life, were glossed over. Oh yeah, his cousins were sleeping together, and she seduced him at age 14, but let's talk about that British Empire for awhile!So. A novel about sex. A novel about revolution. But NOT a novel about sexual revolution....

Sally Flint

I did not understand chunks of this book at all. Dragged myself through it, only because I am doing the let's read all the man-bookers challenge, but otherwise would have definitely given up. As it was the last third got a cursory skim through. There were sentences and phrases that were sheer brilliance, and I understand it was supposed to post-modernist - i.e. difficult to follow, but I didn't really see why it fulfilled postmodernist criteria (perhaps that is silly thing to say in itself.) The opening part about the protagonists childhood made sense, and then the seduction by a female relative, whilst not really worth writing home about, at least fit with the blurb on the back. I started to lose my way with it with the whole death of the pilot, try as I might I can't really figure what he was getting at. And the last third... well.. lost on me completely. So he was a womaniser, and was an admirer of Garibaldi, but the link with the Balkans was too hard for me and the behaviour at the ball. Genuinely perplexed. Wasted a good deal of time ploughing through it and now feeling quite stupid that my understanding was so little. If anyone can enlighten me as to what it was all about I would be grateful.


"… un piccolo piccione vanitoso"Il regalo di un’amica. Mi è stato proposto come un libro sperimentale, ma pieno di stimoli e non c’è dubbio che lo sia realmente. Non è sicuramente un romanzo lineare, perché la narrazione prosegue frammentata, slegata. Non racconta una storia nella sua interezza, ma momenti, immagini, alternando racconto, analisi psicologiche, storiche e sociali, stimoli sensoriali. Ci sono dei passaggi che sembrano svilupparsi come il concertato di un’opera lirica. E’ un libro che parla ai sensi. La cura che Berger pone nel descrivere tutti gli aspetti sensoriali delle esperienze è particolarissima. Le sensazioni tattili, i suoni, i profumi, le immagini, i sapori, tutto ciò che colpisce i sensi è analizzato minuziosamente. E nonostante lo stile slegato, la frammentarietà del racconto, o forse proprio per questo, è un romanzo che finisce per prenderti profondamente, affascinandoti, ma soprattutto emozionandoti. Ogni paragrafo se pur breve stimola la curiosità del successivo, il bisogno di sapere cosa ci sarà “dietro l’angolo”. Il protagonista, uno dei personaggi più particolari che mi sia mai capitato di incontrare nei libri, è “un piccolo piccione vanitoso” come lo definisce un amico, che passa attraverso la vita e la storia e sembra quasi non curarsi di ciò che lo circonda, concentrando il suo interesse unicamente sulla donna e la seduzione. E' pervaso da una sensualità istintiva ereditata dalla madre e assimilata con il latte materno: “A Parigi Laura offre il seno al suo bimbo neonato. E' come se il latte che sgorga da lei fosse il mercurio di uno strano specchio. E nello specchio il bambino è parte del suo corpo, ogni parte di lei si raddoppia”. Pratica la seduzione con studio e metodo, come una scienza applicata e i suoi atti risultano quasi esperimenti scientifici. E paradossalmente le donne vivono tutto questo come una sorta di emancipazione. La resa è per loro un atto compiuto per libera scelta e non perché dovuto in base ad un diritto stabilito. Lui non ha diritti su di loro, sono loro a darsi e questo sembra farle sentire libere. Ed è un crescendo continuo, fino al finale… emozionante. La consapevolezza della realtà, della storia, dei conflitti sociali, del tempo, tutte quelle pulsioni che durante la vita avevano attratto e respinto G, affascinandolo e spaventandolo nel contempo e finendo per sfiorarlo solamente, finiscono per abbattersi su di lui come una Nemesi e lui se ne lascia travolgere. Bellissimo, veramente, una sorpresa emozionante. Grazie Sandra!


It's really been too long since I've read this one...it's complicated, rich in terms of texture, and it's ideas in terms of the exploration of relationships, even feminism, are the most forefront in my mind as I recall it. However, it's a complex book deserving of more of a description and I have read too many books inbetween then and now to not get some details mixed up.

Randal Samstag

Remarkable literature by the man who was an inspiration to Michael Ondaatje amd Arundhati Roy.

Editorial Alfaguara

�Qui�n es G.? �Don Juan? �Garibaldi? �Alg�n h�roe rom�ntico? �El libertador de las mujeres? Espectador de los principales acontecimientos que agitaron Europa en los a�os anteriores a la Primera Guerra Mundial, G. encarna, seg�n su autor, �al hombre que hace el amor como una forma de destruir mentalmente a la sociedad establecida�. Prof�tica en muchos aspectos, G. es una reflexi�n sobre la sexualidad masculina en un mundo en el que las mujeres ya no son propiedad indiscutible de los hombres. Su atrevida composici�n formal, resultado del convencimiento de su autor de que �nunca m�s se volver� a contar una sola historia como si fuera la �nica� y de su empe�o por �modernizar el marxismo�, ha despertado acaloradas pol�micas en todas partes. G. recibi� el Premio Booker y est� considerada como una de las mejores novelas anglosajonas de las �ltimas d�cadas.

Eli Greenlaw

I just finished this book and already I'm dying to read it again. I think it's best enjoyed in small doses. In any number of places he lulls you to sleep with some pretty boring text, then he gets 'inspired' or something and begins to rattle off some of the most beautifully worded and descriptive language I've ever heard.I need to write more, to give some examples, but I have to head off to work! I will be updating this review within the next few days.Cheers!

Lukáš Palán

Nevím, jak se to Bergerovi povedlo, ale dokázal napsat nezajímavou knihu, která obsahuje strašně moc kund, což jsem si myslel že je vrchol oxymoronismu.

Elizabeth Moffat

Its a bit hard to describe what this book is about except by saying it is a search for intimacy by our central character G. I can see why it might appeal to Booker judges as the descriptive language is quite lovely at times but I'm afraid to say I found it a bit of a yawn.

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