Book Review: The Sense of Sight by John Berger

Title: The Sense of Sight
Author: John Berger
Publisher: Vintage USA
ISBN: 978-0-679-73722-3
Genre: Non-Fiction, Art Criticism
Pages: 300
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

When John Berger writes something and you read it, it is nothing but poetry in prose and sometimes even his non-fiction woks stand out even more so. I was introduced to John Berger by chance and thank god for that “by chance” moment or else I would have never known the beauty of his works and he would never have become an integral writer in my life.

“The Sense of Sight” is a collection of essays by him – on the visual aspects of our world. The way we see things, perceive them and ultimately judge what we see. John Berger traces what vision means to us and its importance to see things differently, from paintings to rivers to dreams being a vision and how that amalgamates with the world surrounding us.

With art criticism in tow, he speaks of other things as well – politics, love, food, class, travel and immigration, dreaming, passion, art as an activity, feasts, Van Gogh’s compulsion to bring his canvas and reality together to what two self-portraits of an unrivalled artist speak of art.

Berger writes with fervor and brilliance. Art in his words become something else altogether. There are stories hidden in these essays and the reader only has to look for them and that is good for a reader. This book bridges the gap between seeing and the spoken. The writing is intense and just there for the reader to assimilate. Berger has a neutral view to art and everything else under the sun, and that is why one can relate to what he writes. His range is vast and that helps in the book not getting monotonous or lame at any point of time.

The Sense of Sight may not be a book for everyone however if you are interested about art and life, then maybe you should pick it up.

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