Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
John Peter Berger’s achievements in the arts and criticism defy simple classification. Even the term “man of letters,” which encompasses the work of literary polymaths, is inadequate, for Berger has not only written art, social, and literary criticism but also helped to produce a television series, made films, and published photographic essays. Perhaps he is best described as one of the European Left’s most distinguished “men of culture and politics.”
In fact, opposition to the increased specialization and division of labor which characterized the twentieth century is one of the principal themes that run through Berger’s varied works. With this he combines a commitment to humane art and to the political liberation and cultural recognition of those who suffer from prejudice, oppression, and powerlessness. From his youth, Berger was a Marxist, but his political stance and practice were shaped by an artistic sensibility and a sense of values that have their roots in nineteenth century art and anarcho-socialist theory.
Berger’s childhood was a lonely one. His parents (his father was a director of an accounting firm) sent him to a boarding school at the age of six, and he had little to do with them thereafter. His experiences at school were not happy ones, and eventually he fled to London, where he studied painting at two art schools, before and after two years in the army during World War II. After the war, he was drawn to...
(The entire section is 986 words.)
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