Booker Prize-winning author John Berger’s first novel, published in 1958, tells the story of Janos Lavin, an expatriate Hungarian painter who vanishes from his London life without warning. His friend, John, goes to Janos’s studio to try to find out what happened to the painter, and finds there a journal Janos kept during the past year. The remainder of the novel consists of that journal and John’s commentary on it; the resulting textual dialogue is a brilliant meditation on art, politics, and love in post-World War II Europe. Politically-engaged, incisive, and devastating, John Berger is one of our best living novelists and art critics, and a true visionary.
From A Painter of Our Time:
(Janos writes in his journal:)
"I have painted two nudes. Although nobody may know it, the nude is a revolutionary subject. The body suggests, on a sensuous level, all that man is capable of becoming on every level when he has at last created that society which will be worthy of himself. On the back of a box of matches I bought the other day, is a joke: 'Time: the stuff between pay days.' Such exactly is the squalor of consciousness capitalism has brought to so many who live under it." (85)