Pig Earth

ISBN: 0747543038
ISBN 13: 9780747543039
By: John Berger

Check Price Now


Currently Reading Favorites Fiction My Library Novels Poetry Reread Short Stories To Read Uk

About this book

Set in a small village in the French Alps, this book relates the stories of sceptical, hard-working men and fiercely independent women.

Reader's Thoughts

Sarah Whitney

The short stories and poems that comprise this book focus on peasant life in rural France in the nineteenth century, a life that was slowly and systematically affected by industrial civilization. As others have more or less stated, the book is essentially a fictionalized sociology of modernization. I enjoyed the stories and the poems; they were balanced well. The chapters "An Explanation," preceding the stories and poems, as well as the "Historical Afterword" at the close of the book, really help me see where Berger was coming from and further enhanced my appreciation of his stories. His appreciation and attention to this disappearing culture of peasants, whom he fittingly calls survivors, makes this book a noteworthy and memorable tribute.


I picked this book up from a street sale and read it with great pleasure. A neat look into French rural life. Fun to read the short stories depicting a time of life that is rapidly disappearing but ultimately necessary. Time, life, resources, weather, hardship, food. The poems were okay.


its a matter of place to what we know but its a matter of community as in how we grow the industrail shift from county to city takes most the community out of everyones visible labour and prehaps common knowledge of life


As a work of fiction, I don't care if Berger romanticized the lives of French peasants. The stories are poignant and beautifully told. Berger's prose is some of the best.


I loved this book and the whole trilogy. Have re-read and would love to read again... But l lent my copy ... Never to be returned ... Couldn't buy a new copy as out of print!!!


The kind of book where you want to write down and remember every description- sketches of peasant life in France- beautiful stories. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy- highly recommended.


I'm not much of a book reviewer, I just write a few comments when I have a crack of time.I would prefer to give Pig Earth a fractional rating, say 3.5 rather than 4, because overall I don't rate it a 4. BUT, there are parts of it that I would rate over 4 and so I'm going with the higher number because they deserve to be read.If it's not clear, I don't use the 1-5 star scale linearly. If 5 stars meant "top 20%" this would be a 5.My first comment on Pig Earth is that I wish I hadn't read the introduction. I advise skipping it and reading it at the end if you're curious. I wont say anything more about the introduction, because describing it and why I wish I'd not read it might only color your reading in the way it colored mine. The stories are easily strong enough to stand alone, and so they should.I nearly stopped reading Pig Earth about halfway through. At some point a few years ago I resolved not to be so stubborn and old-fashioned about book reading and to simply abandon things that weren't really great. This was about the time that I realized I'd only read about another 1000 books in my life.But I just went to London and I needed a light paperback for the trip, so I took it along.And I'm really glad I did. The second half was wonderful. The last two stories are real gems. I enjoyed them a lot, especially the last: The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol.So that's my second piece of advice: If you're not enjoying the book so much, skip to the last story. Then read the second last one, The Value of Money.Sorry for so many words. Hopefully they'll be of use.

Guida Allès

Llibre preciós sobre la vida del camp. Comentari de'n Biel Pons aquí:

Justin Evans

Hey, I've got an idea! Why don't I write a trilogy of books about the French peasantry in the post-war period. And I'll combine vignettes, novellae, poems and short stories. And I'll do it all using the tricks of modernist literary prose. Oh, and I'll add an indignant, didactic essay at the start. Sounds... well, it sounds like a godawful idea, but somehow Berger makes it work, and work pretty well. He writes beautifully; he doesn't romanticize the way of life he's trying to describe, but nor does he vilify it; he mixes in humor pretty well; his characters aren't unduly literary. On the down-side, the dialogue is super-stilted. It actually reads like French dialogue translated into English, which is charmless but also, in a weird way, makes it feel more authentic: these are real French peasants who've been translated into English! Anyway, I read this after reading somewhere that it's comparable to McCarthy's Border Trilogy. The first book of this one's better than the first book of that one in a few ways, less impressive in a few others. But I certainly want to read the next two. A solid 3.5 stars, but I'm trying to be sparing with my stars.


An amazing, visceral view of the life of the peasant. Incredibly compelling, a view of the substrate from which human society sprang, and to which it will one day return.


Compared with the sweepingly literary pieces which form the bulk of this work, the author begins oddly with a sort of clinical treatise on the socio-economic position and threatened evolution of the European peasant. It's an introduction which nevertheless leaks the intent...solidarity and romantic memorialization of the ways of the "backward", and admiration of cultures resisting nefarious progress. And so follows the collection of 10 short fictions, 7 poems, and handful of guilelessly superfluous illustrations (which do enhance the impression of random collectivity you get from turning the pages). The fictions vary in length (2-50 pages), and in tone--alternately dry (like discussing a family's work in an abattoir) to high-flown and impressionistic (a long dreamlike section detailing a barn-raising among ghosts of the dead-by-violence). The book uses that collectivity well, building on the vignette style, and after this stretch of vacillation, comes together in the long pieces at the end...esp in the form of John Berger's anti-heroine(?), Lucie Cabrol, the dwarfish spinster that embodies the willfullness, sensitivity, and industry he promises to memorialize in the intro. She is a woman unvalued by city and village alike, but who still finds self-mastery outside of others' praise through her enhanced connection to the earth around her. And ultimately, she's conferred with a spirit and unexpected capacity for love that outstrips that of both the wordly and the ignorant..

Neil Hanson

Whether or not you share his politics, John Berger writes like a dream and this is a brilliant evocation of a remote French farming community


This is not my favorite Berger (I prefer Shape of a Pocket and From A to X), but like all his work, it's beautiful and rare. The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol, if nothing else, is worth the whole book, but I love the earlier stories as well.


First book of the Into Their Labours trilogy (with Once in Europa and Lilac and Flag. The three have to be read together. It's a true trilogy; the books are distinct (and even have different forms--Pig Earth mixes short stories and poetry, Lilac and Flag is the only one that's a novel as such), and stand on their own, but the sum is much greater than the individual parts. One of the greatest works written in English in the past 50 years.


takes the mystique out of rural life

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *