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And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  1,006 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Booker Prize-winning author John Berger reveals the ties between love and absence, the ways poetry endows language with the assurance of prayer, and the tensions between the forward movement of sexuality and the steady backward tug of time. He recreates the mysterious forces at work in a Rembrandt painting, transcribes the sensorial experience of viewing lilacs at dusk, an ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 8th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1982)
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Description: Simon McBurney - a close friend of the late art critic and writer who died in January - reads John Berger's most personal book: part essay, part poetry collection, part memoir & love letter. McBurney also shares memories of Berger and the house and landscape that inspired the book in the early 1980s. Harriet Walter reads Berger's poetry.

Today we meet Berger in his beloved Haute-Savoie mountains, as he crosses the frontier into Italy and be
Bello a partire dal titolo.


Berger si conferma un critico della cultura contemporanea con cui ha ingaggiato un confronto serrato, frontale ma non polemico, complesso ma anche sottile.

Sotto forma di lettere alla propria amata, diventa presto un messaggio diretto al mondo intero, universale ma ancor più sociale.
Un percorso tra immagini e canzoni, riflessioni frammenti poesie.
Tra spazio e tempo, tra disegno e scrittura, tra parole e rappresentazioni, tra generi
Mar 30, 2008 Jude rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: waking dreamers
Recommended to Jude by: read an article of his in Harpers and went looking
this was my first book of Berger's and still the one i love the most. his passions illuminate my own, or open me up to new ones.
it is a combination of poetry and prose that mirrors those elements in everyday experience, everyday willingness to experience as fully as possible.

in my own day to day i wander in and out of the past, the lines of reference and connection sometimes so demanding and yet so ephemeral i wonder if everyone lives this way and how do we bear it?

berger articulates the music
Jeff Jackson
Nov 21, 2014 Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Each pine at dusk
Lodges the bird
of its voice
perpendicular and still
the forest
indifferent to history
tearless as stone
in tremulous excitement
the ancient story
of the sun going down

Stirring combination of personal essay, art criticism, and poetry that examines and undermines received ideas about time, space, love, migration, nature, class, painting, and much more. Berger's poetry here is the biggest revelation - distilled, lyrical, haunted. This short book defies categorization, leaping betw
Feb 03, 2016 Philip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll read pages and pages of Berger thinking, what utter madness - what is this man on about at all.

And then, all of a sudden and at once, I'll find something not perception shifting, but perception giving: I see something, not differently, but new.

Apart from A Fortunate Man - which is to my mind an masterpiece - that is why I go back to him again and again: not because I enjoy his books from cover to cover, but because inevitably somewhere between those covers I'll find something utterly profo
Mar 31, 2017 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Simon McBurney - a close friend of the late art critic and writer who died in January - reads John Berger's most personal book: part essay, part poetry collection, part memoir & love letter. McBurney also shares memories of Berger and the house and landscape that inspired the book in the early 1980s. Harriet Walter reads Berger's poetry.

Today we meet Berger in his beloved Haute-Savoie mountains, as he crosses the frontier into Italy and begins a rumination
Jan 10, 2009 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Weaving between prose and poetry, John Berger manages to get to the heart of love, distance, and loss. An amazing read. At least monthly, I pick it up to reread my favorite parts.
Sep 28, 2013 Asha rated it it was amazing
Perhaps lilac is the most abundantly feminine of flowers. It came from Eastern Europe and was imported into the West in the sixteenth century. A Slav flower.

Among the mountains here, the lilac trees flower at the time when the first cuckoos sing. Cuckoos and lilac come as a pair. The cuckoo is pure impudence. Later when he falls silent after mating, he eats grubs and caterpillars-even those which are poisonous for other birds-with impunity.

The scent of the lilac, you once said, is not far from t
Apr 10, 2017 metaphor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: john-berger
If we are trapped, my heart, it is not within reality.
In the country which is you I know your gestures, the intonations of your voice, the shape of every part of your body. You are not physically less real there, but you are less free.
What changes when you are there before my eyes is that you become unpredictable. What you are about to do is unknown to me. I follow you. You act. And with what you do, I fall in love again.
The opposite of to love is not to hate but to separate. If love and hat
David Schaafsma
Nov 05, 2012 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A first read of a great book that I think on subsequent readings will get even more important for me. A letter to a lover, a meditation in the way of Spinoza or other non-Rationalist philosophers, on art, love, language, poetry, photography, politics, art.... with sections on favorite artists like Carvaggio, and interspersed through it are poems, pretty wonderful poems. I'll keep this one by my bedside and add to this review as I read and reread and reflect. Much of what i appreciate about the b ...more
Jim Agustin
Oct 21, 2010 Jim Agustin rated it it was amazing
This was an accidental find for me in a secondhand bookshop. On first reading I thought it was disturbing and rather fragmented. It wasn't the first John Berger book I've read, so I felt challenged and gave it a second read. Then a third. Every once in a while I keep going back to it because it continues to draw me in. There is sadness, longing, rebirth, an all-embracing sense of the fragile world we find ourselves in this work that is laid out like big pieces of a puzzle that do not seem to int ...more
Aug 29, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
I read this again and again and again when I was Estonia years ago--on the one hand I only had a small pile of books, but on the other I really love Berger's humanist aesthetics--hovers somewhere in the company of Kundera and Rilke. Good stuff.

Milton Brasher-Cunningham
Jun 19, 2014 Milton Brasher-Cunningham rated it it was amazing
John Berger writes in a way that fills my lungs, my heart, my head. I feel as though he has placed every word on every page in the same way a mosaic artist sets each piece of tile in place. He writes with both mind and heart. I love this book.
Aug 07, 2016 Angelica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intenso, a volte un po' criptico. Lascia spazio all'immedesimazione di ciascun individuo.
Merita una seconda e poi una terza prima non basta a riflettere su tutto quello che ci propone.
Anıl Gürkan
"...Çoğunda birkaç kuşağın ölüm tarihleri kayıtlı: ad, doğum yılı, ölüm günü ve ... ölüm yeri. Bir ad ve iki tarih ve tarihlerin sonuncusu en ince ayrıntısına dek titizlikle yazılmış. Kayıtlar bundan ibaret. İkisi arasında ne olduğu hakkında, yaşanılmış olduğu gerçeğinden başka tek sözcük yok."

Ölüm, mezar taşları, varoluş ve tabii ki yokoluş üzerine dokunuşlar yaptığı bölümden alıntıladığım şu kısacak pasaj dahi kitap ve Berger'in müthiş gözlem yeteneği üzerine güzellemeler yapmamız için kâfi. Ş
Onur Yilmaz
Mar 26, 2017 Onur Yilmaz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Berger'e giriş kitabım. Zorlu, çetrefilli, kafa yormalı ama bir o kadar da keyifli ve kesinlikle akılda kalıcı bir eser. Sık sık açıp okumalık.
Kevin McDonagh
Mar 12, 2017 Kevin McDonagh rated it it was ok
Shelves: art
Rather than an essay, I need to spend the time with this book as poetry... I'll return.
Shante' Zenith
Feb 16, 2017 Shante' Zenith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspirations
Simon McBurney led me to Berger’s book, but once I began to read Berger, I realized how influential this book was for my own research into the gift. Berger’s writing about poetry and language hugely resonates with the fascination I have with the poetic and how it can be used to connect to the world through the imagination. Berger’s writings on home have also been deeply influential to my process. He writes about home as the place where the vertical and the horizontal meet in a way that is struct ...more
Sep 23, 2012 Julia rated it it was amazing
Berger's poetry and prose has left me reeling after finally finishing. I say finally, because I have been reading this book off and on over the course of the past year. The reason for this is not because I was trudging through the book and painfully dragging my feet when it came to reading; instead, I wanted to draw out this experience of reading for as long as I could. There is nothing quite like reading a brilliant, thought-provoking book for the very first time; that is why I put off reading ...more
Dec 30, 2008 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You should read writers that the writers you love love. Gerald Vizenor always seems to work a mention of John Berger into his texts.

This was brilliant and expressed quite a few ideas about time far better than I ever could have expressed them myself. A collection of philosophical sketches, poems, and essays about nature of love, time, space and separation, it still leaves a little something to desired. Though prose are meticulously constructed, I require something a little more creative. Also,
Oct 21, 2012 Mita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fotocopie
Questo libro, dono di una carissima amica, mi segue... anzi mi sta accanto, da diversi mesi ormai. E' lì appoggiato per terra vicino al letto ed ogni tanto la sera, tra un romanzo e l'altro o comunque quando ne sento la voglia, lo riprendo in mano e leggo o rileggo qualcosa. Ci sono brani o meglio, "immagini" che ho letto e riletto più volte e che rileggerò ancora, perché mi affascinano e mi commuovono e non saprei neanche dire perchè:
un gattino completamente bianco,
la foto di cinque o
This might not be a perfect work (which literary standards does it follow anyway?), but it is perfect for me. Berger writes about literally everything I read about. Every subject and interest of my reading gets a place somewhere in this small book. Time, space, distance, love and loss. Migration, nature, art and photography. I can't but feel this little work as a key to my library of read and to be read books. As if John Berger prepared me a notebook full of memorable quotes and interesting pass ...more
Sep 07, 2007 jimstoic rated it really liked it
Shelves: ultimate-reality
I first read this book in 1984. I remember finding it slow going at the time. I did not know what to expect. It's neither the kind of art analysis nor the kind of fiction for which Berger is known. It's more two sets of adamant musings, the first on time and the second on place. Reading it 29 years later, I knew what to expect, had experienced more of life and the world, and was better able to appreciate it. At about 100 pages, it's definitely worth the effort. There are passages as insightful a ...more
Nov 09, 2014 Kostas rated it it was amazing
This book is impossible to classify. It is a composition of prose, poetry, essays on art, migration, ideas about time, power, history the work of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Caravaggio. The thought of Berger is powerful and groundbreaking. It is a book that I want to have always in my pocket so that, every now and then, I can dive randomly in its pages.
Dec 28, 2009 Hannah rated it it was amazing
There is someone who recommended this book to me, who I sometimes feel stands from me across an unbridgeable gulf of love and loss. Reading this book, I imagined us reading it facing each other from opposite sides of the world. This book was pretty beautiful and certainly thought-stirring, and it also made me feel very alone.
Cynthia Davidson
Sep 25, 2011 Cynthia Davidson rated it liked it
Picked this up from time to time as it stayed on my nightside table till I'd finished it.
Visual culture is a minefield & it is instructive to have someone coaching you on your own process of seeing...
Ho davvero stima di Berger ma ho trovato questo volume troppo frammentario e pretenzioso. Ho pensato che forse bisogna essere innamorati o perlomeno non completamente disillusi per apprezzarlo in pieno, riproverò in tempi migliori.

Sep 12, 2012 Poupeh rated it really liked it
You are home. Language is home. Where is home? Who are you? which language?
No wonder the displacement. No wonder feeling lost.

Loved some passages. loved the pain of reading them. loved the pain of leaving them...
Sep 22, 2008 Anthony rated it really liked it
A gorgeous and very unique work; it moves from personal and introspective prose to lyrical free verse to academic prose without seeming fragmented. The discussion of Caravaggio totally changed the way I see "Boy Being Bitten by a Lizard". Recommended to me by Mylinh. Thanks :-)
Dec 25, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, art, essays
A gorgeous little book that manages to seamlessly blend the emotional and the intellectual, shifting from poetry to narrative to essay. I can't help but think Berger was writing in the style of a blog long before the form existed.
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John Peter Berger was an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a college text.

Later he was self exiled to continental Europe, living between the french Alps in summer and the suburbs of Paris in winter. Since then, his production has incre
More about John Berger...

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“My heart born naked
was swaddled in lullabies.
Later alone it wore
poems for clothes.
Like a shirt
I carried on my back
the poetry I had read.

So I lived for half a century
until wordlessly we met.

From my shirt on the back of the chair
I learn tonight
how many years
of learning by heart
I waited for you.”
“Poems, even when narrative, do not resemble stories. All stories are about battles, of one kind or another, which end in victory or defeat. Everything moves towards the end, when the outcome will be known.

Poems, regardless of any outcome, cross the battlefields, tending the wounded, listening to the wild monologues of the triumphant or the fearful. They bring a kind of peace. Not by anaesthesia or easy reassurance, but by recognition and the promise that what has been experienced cannot disappear as if it had never been. Yet the promise is not of a monument. (Who, still on a battlefield, wants monuments?) The promise is that language has acknowledged, has given shelter, to the experience which demanded, which cried out.”
More quotes…