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G. by John Berger
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G. (1972)

by John Berger

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619815,730 (3.55)49
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Different to anything else I've read
By sally tarbox on 23 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
I didnt think I was going to enjoy this book at all. I wouldnt read it again, but the writing is incredibly accomplished and beautiful. From the first pages chronicling the relationship of G's parents in Italy, to his childhood on an English farm, his (numerous) love affairs, experiences in WW1 Trieste...
While G is something of a blank canvas, incidents of his life are 'built up' through layers of feelings and observations. Thus a sexually-charged outing with friends, one of whom he is intent on seducing, features precise descriptions of the trees, snippets of irrelevant conversation, the smell of the forest- little irrelevancies that together form a memory.
Although Berger's experimental style works pretty well, I do take issue with him incorporating sometimes quite long and obscure thoughts that detract from the 'storyline' such as it is. The description of G's first romantic encounter is punctuated by a lengthy consideration on 'why does writing about sexual experience reveal so strikingly what may be a general limitation of literature in relation to aspects of all experience?'
I also found felt that the inclusion of two dirty pictures lowered my respect for the author (could he not describe such things in words?!) ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
This is a difficult one to review. I liked "To the wedding" a lot, and I'm always interested in Booker winners, but having just finished reading this I'm genuinely unsure how I feel about it. On one level a picaresque with a central character loosely based on Don Giovanni, it also covers a broad sweep of European history in the late 19th and early 20th century, largely focused on Italy, and is full of interesting ideas. ( )
  bodachliath | Nov 11, 2014 |
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. ( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
I will admit up front that I did not expect to like this book. A few years ago, a book blogger's review led me to believe that both the style and subject matter would probably not appeal to me. But in my quest to read all Booker Prize winners, I knew one day I'd have to give it a try. And so I did. Fifty pages later, the style and subject matter were not appealing to me. Not in the least.

I'll pad this non-review with the product description from Amazon.com:
Fascinating...an extraordinary mixture of historical detail and sexual meditation...G. belongs in the tradition of George Eliot, Tolstoy, D. H. Lawrence and Norman Mailer." -- The New York Times

In this luminous novel -- winner of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize -- John Berger relates the story of "G.," a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the Don Juan's success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their moments with him. All of this Berger sets 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.


That sounds pretty juicy, but by the time I gave up on this book "the principal protagonist" (as he is often referred to) was still a little child. Yet he had already been aroused by the feeling of his head leaning back against his governess' dress. Um, yeah.

The description led me to believe this would be a character-driven novel, but it quickly became apparent this would be a novel of ideas. That's not a bad thing, but combined with the choppy writing style, this book really didn't work for me.

I feel a bit guilty not sticking with this longer, but it simply didn't hold my interest and, after all, reading should be fun.
  lauralkeet | Mar 25, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679736549, Paperback)

In this luminous novel -- winner of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize -- John Berger relates the story of "G.," a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of this century. With profound compassion, Berger explores the hearts and minds of both men and women, and what happens during sex, to reveal the conditions of the Don Juan's success: his essential loneliness, the quiet cumulation in each of his sexual experiences of all of those that precede it, the tenderness that infuses even the briefest of his encounters, and the way women experience their own extraordinariness through their moments with him. All of this Berger sets 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Born to an Italian father and his American mistress, G. becomes, in the years before the First World War, a modern Don Juan.

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