Berger’s Ways of Being

When Joshua Sperling’s biography of John Berger arrived at my door, I approached it with trepidation. I’d known Berger for more than forty years, and biographers, having amassed reams of information about a life, may render it in ways that make it unrecognizable to friends or family. Upon his death in January 2017, many of Berger’s British obituarists, on both the right and the left, engaged in settling decades-old political or art world scores. Berger had not only escaped the confines of his British island but he had had the audacity to rise to fame before doing so. From his French mountainside he denounced injustices that were everywhere visible, even in his native land. He was read in a multiplicity of languages. None of this could altogether be forgiven.

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