A Summons To The Alps


There are lots of reasons why you might have heard of John Berger, the novelist, art critic, intellectual, farmer and screenwriter. At the same time, when people are too varied in their pursuits, they sometimes slip under the radar.

Let’s assume you have heard of him. Maybe you studied his groundbreaking theories of visual reception in art school. Perhaps you’re a latter-day Marxist who is fascinated by Berger’s correspondences with Subcomandante Marcos, not to mention Berger’s lifelong, unapologetic embrace of Marxism. Maybe you’re involved in peasant reform, homesteading, or farming and you’re in awe over the fact that Berger studied the European peasant experience to produce his Into Their Labours novel trilogy and that, in the early 1970’s he moved onto a farm in the Alps that he still lives in and maintains even at 82.  Berger won the Booker Prize in 1972 for his novel, G; and was nominated yet again for it in 2008. A man like that accumulates a lot of documents, a lot of letters, scripts, ephemera, post-its, you name it.

And now, from Maud Newton, we learn that he’s offering to donate his archives (“over a 100 file boxes”) to the British Library for free, as long as someone makes the trip up through the French Alps to the “remote Alpine village” where he lives to fetch them.  I have to say that if anything sounds like a dream job, that does. And the young gent who will be undertaking the expedition will be recording his impressions along the way via the British Museum’s twitter feed.

I will leave you with this great essay about John Berger from The Broolyn Rail.

Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →