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G. Hardcover – Jun 8 1972


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Littlehampton Book Services Ltd (June 8 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297994239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297994237
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,762,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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"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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
"G", by Mr. John Berger is the work of his that won the distinguished, "Booker Prize". What is perhaps more remarkable is that this was completed while he had published the first two, and was completing the final volume of his, "Into Their Labours Trilogy". This trilogy is one that I just read and I feel it is the best of his work that I have had the pleasure to read. Perhaps as it was broken into separate volumes and issued over 15 years made recognition of the trilogy impossible.
This work is different as we begin learning about, "The Protagonist" long before he has been born, and it is quite later on that he is finally referred to as, "G". The only time he actually takes his Father's name is when it is in the form of a falsified passport, which in the context of the story is as it should be. G has an extraordinarily eventful life, however it is devoid of a traditional Family. It is this method of his being raised that leads him to become a veritable predator of woman. But it is not just G who describes what he has planned and what he experiences, but also the women he pursues. However the Author that sets the stage for the events between G and his female friends offers another layer of insight.
The Author's voice is present and at times the dominant presence in the narrative. This book reminded me at times of Mr. Berger's works of non-fiction when he takes the senses that we use without thought and explains their workings so they become fascinating. He makes them this way not by explaining how they perform their tasks, but how they collect and interpret information well in excess of what we are consciously aware of.
I thought G personified an individual who was focused on one basic drive of all animals while being oblivious to what was really going on around him.
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By "tksc" on April 20 2000
Format: Paperback
What is fascinating about this book is how Berger tells the story of the modern Don Juan (Don Giovanni) from the perspective of the seduced. Instead of telling the heroic tail of the 'conquests,' Berger focuses on the reception of seduction. Rather, seduction is a two-way street. "He" is the seducer--but so are his partners. They all come with interesting stories.
The 'protagonist' is uninteresting; he's not even all that attractive. Yet, Berger isn't all that interested in why G. would be attractive for so many women. Here there are no heroes and no victims. In sex there is the encounter of two: 'who' they are isn't reducible to status and power; rather, it is the activity of anticipation, the clamouring, the lust, the mutual surrender, and the tenderness of fleeting moments.
Such moments are told against the backdrop of an astute historical understanding of the role of the sexes. Berger obliterates our preconceptions of sex-roles, our unconscious historical memories, by focusing on the mutual nature of passion.
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By A Customer on Dec 15 1998
Format: Paperback
The main character - or should I say protaganist- of this book is not particularly interesting or endearing.But the story in its narrative form is compelling.The writer describes the events partly as an historian and partly as an author but then compounds events by addressing the reader with the first person - as though he personally was a witness not only to the events but to the personal emotions of the characters as well. There is much wisdom in this book - not in a cosy way, but in defining life and its intricacies, reminding us of events in our own lives but making us remember those events as exceptional-which I suppose - is the basis of romance. One is engaged with the author whilst we learn about G -closer to the author than the character. G's quest is ultimately pointless, as he single mindedly trawls through his life, marked only by physical conquests - doomed through lust and avarice - his sincerity is faulted, he lives only for now - ultimately he has no vision.
We learn not from his actions but from the authors descriptions and eloquent prose - that there is magic in life, that our experiences count for everything.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Perspectives... April 20 2000
By "tksc" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What is fascinating about this book is how Berger tells the story of the modern Don Juan (Don Giovanni) from the perspective of the seduced. Instead of telling the heroic tail of the 'conquests,' Berger focuses on the reception of seduction. Rather, seduction is a two-way street. "He" is the seducer--but so are his partners. They all come with interesting stories.
The 'protagonist' is uninteresting; he's not even all that attractive. Yet, Berger isn't all that interested in why G. would be attractive for so many women. Here there are no heroes and no victims. In sex there is the encounter of two: 'who' they are isn't reducible to status and power; rather, it is the activity of anticipation, the clamouring, the lust, the mutual surrender, and the tenderness of fleeting moments.
Such moments are told against the backdrop of an astute historical understanding of the role of the sexes. Berger obliterates our preconceptions of sex-roles, our unconscious historical memories, by focusing on the mutual nature of passion.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A tonic for the weary Dec 15 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The main character - or should I say protaganist- of this book is not particularly interesting or endearing.But the story in its narrative form is compelling.The writer describes the events partly as an historian and partly as an author but then compounds events by addressing the reader with the first person - as though he personally was a witness not only to the events but to the personal emotions of the characters as well. There is much wisdom in this book - not in a cosy way, but in defining life and its intricacies, reminding us of events in our own lives but making us remember those events as exceptional-which I suppose - is the basis of romance. One is engaged with the author whilst we learn about G -closer to the author than the character. G's quest is ultimately pointless, as he single mindedly trawls through his life, marked only by physical conquests - doomed through lust and avarice - his sincerity is faulted, he lives only for now - ultimately he has no vision.
We learn not from his actions but from the authors descriptions and eloquent prose - that there is magic in life, that our experiences count for everything.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Jan. 2 2009
By Richard Pittman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm at a bit of a loss on what to say about G. It's about a character obsessed with sexual conquest who, as a result doesn't notice the world around him.

The hero (so to speak), G, lives in interesting times with interesting events occurring around him. In these times, he focuses on completely on sexual conquest and truly falls in love with his conquests in the moment and then moves on.

The author is the powerful presence as opposed to G who appropriately isn't in control.

It's not a bad read and the events surrounding G make a good contrast to what might otherwise be a bit tiresome.

It was released in the 1970s and although it is about an earlier time, the attitude towards sex brought to mind the 70s. I'm not sure I can explain it better than that.

I liked it enough but it's a bit of an odd book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Novel of ideas, erotic but detached and intellectual: a challenge, Feb. 3 2009
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This dense, philosophical Booker Prize-winning novel of ideas took six years to write. Appearing in 1972, it follows the amorous adventures of an Italian-English gentleman as he seduces, from a predictably precocious age, many women. Yet, this Don Juan, for me, lacks appeal. His encounters, recounted by an intrusive and omniscient narrator, intersperse with eloquent meditations on sexuality, eroticism, love, and desire as a construct trapping or freeing men and women in late 19th and early 20th century Europe.

Berger's mix of reflection and fiction may not flow lightly, but it moves often dazzlingly. The distance that the author places between himself and "G" serves to keep the reader apart from the characters, and G's lovers come and go suddenly, without conventional seductions followed by affairs ended by breakups. You get their couplings in fragmented, often very evocative and momentarily graphic depictions. But, without the aftermath, what accrues are episodes from G.'s love life, mixed with narrative reflection, historical and political mini-essays, and an account of the times from both a bourgeois and a proletarian perspective.

The result's better cited in its prose, so below I give examples of Berger's success. While I found many parts uninvolving, such as Chavez' first flight over the Alps, the accounts of rebellions and the WWI glimpses held my attention much more, not to mention many sensuous moments. But, this novel, in its fragmented nature and editorial intrusion, may put off readers rather than get them off.

It's a heady experience, nonetheless, for the more intellectually minded reader wanting philosophy mixed with affairs if not of the heart than of the groin. By entering this disturbing, powerful, and unsettlingly limned realm, Berger tries to demythologize romance. He offers instead an analysis in fiction and speculation of how it takes place, emerging from within the society of a hundred years ago. Less concerned with character and even plot, G. as protagonist and his antagonists may not grip you as much as the vignettes of passion whether in fighting on the street or coupling in the boudoir. It may be an exchange you are willing to accept, in return for so many thoughts about sex, death, desire, and longing so well told.

1898 Milanese workers' rebellion: "On the road between the soldiers and the barricade, absolutely still, are the seven stones that have fallen short." (74) "A cubic metre of space; empty it of your conception of that space; what remains is death."

The body: "The process of maturing and, later, of ageing involves a gradual but increasing withdrawal of the self from the exterior surface of the body." (84)

"The focus of sexual desire is concentrated and sharp. The breast may be seen as a model of such focus, gathering from an indefinable, soft variable form to the demarcation of the aureola and, within that, to the precise tip of the nipple." (110) "All generalizations are opposed to sexuality." (111)

The narrator's method: "I write in the spirit of a geometrician. One of the ways in which I establish co-oridnates extensively is by likening aspect with aspect, by way of metaphor. I do not wish to become a prisoner of the nominal, believing that things are what I name them. On the bed they were not such prisoners." (137)

"For the nineteenth century European middle classes the state of being in love was characterized by an excessive uncertainty in an otherwise certain world. It was a state exempt from the promise of Progress." (151)

Speaking of the components of sexual desire, Berger finds some "violently nostalgic," reaching back to birth; others leap ahead to the unknown threshold of our annihilation. At the moment of orgasm these points in time, our beginning and our end, may seem to fuse into one. When that happens everything that lies between them, that is to say our whole life, becomes instantaneous. It is thus I explain the protagonist of my book to myself." (142)

Camille, one of his mistresses just before her first union with G.: "I have as many hairs on the back of my neck as you may have ways of touching me." (202) "Undressing was the act of shedding the interests of those who make up the interests of her life. With her clothes she discarded the men he hates." (203)

"Von Hartmann argued that his wife's adventures and extravagances should be appraised in their special relation to her lifetime with him. The licenses he had granted her had to be so graduated that she did not exhaust the possibilities of his compliance until she was too old to find another man." (257) Jamesian style echoes?

Trapped by our time: "Certain experiences cannot be formulated because they have occurred too soon. This happens when an inherited world-view is unable to contain or resolve certain emotions or intuitions which have been provoked by a new situation or an extremity of experience unforeseen by the world-view." (104)

The final pages: "Perhaps death when it arrives is always a mounting surprise which surprises itself to the point at which all reference--and therefore all self-distinction--disappears." (315) "The horizon is the straight bottom edge of a curtain arbitrarily and suddenly lowered upon a performance." (316)
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This Earned The Prize May 2 2001
By taking a rest - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"G", by Mr. John Berger is the work of his that won the distinguished, "Booker Prize". What is perhaps more remarkable is that this was completed while he had published the first two, and was completing the final volume of his, "Into Their Labours Trilogy". This trilogy is one that I just read and I feel it is the best of his work that I have had the pleasure to read. Perhaps as it was broken into separate volumes and issued over 15 years made recognition of the trilogy impossible.
This work is different as we begin learning about, "The Protagonist" long before he has been born, and it is quite later on that he is finally referred to as, "G". The only time he actually takes his Father's name is when it is in the form of a falsified passport, which in the context of the story is as it should be. G has an extraordinarily eventful life, however it is devoid of a traditional Family. It is this method of his being raised that leads him to become a veritable predator of woman. But it is not just G who describes what he has planned and what he experiences, but also the women he pursues. However the Author that sets the stage for the events between G and his female friends offers another layer of insight.
The Author's voice is present and at times the dominant presence in the narrative. This book reminded me at times of Mr. Berger's works of non-fiction when he takes the senses that we use without thought and explains their workings so they become fascinating. He makes them this way not by explaining how they perform their tasks, but how they collect and interpret information well in excess of what we are consciously aware of.
I thought G personified an individual who was focused on one basic drive of all animals while being oblivious to what was really going on around him. Observations are made for him, as are the interpretations. This is a man who goes through momentous events in History with barely a nod in there direction, while obsessing himself with a planned affair, insult, or other ego satisfying triviality. His lack of perspective and his careless interest in what is important eventually gain his attention. And when this happens the irony is that the attention he receives he has done nothing to deserve other than to be blissfully ignorant.
I would have given this 5 stars, but after Mr. Berger's trilogy I cannot. This is still a splendid read by a master writer that should not be missed.

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