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Book Title: Into Their Labours|
The author of the book: John Berger
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 967 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.7
Edition: Penguin Books Ltd / Granta
Date of issue: January 30th 1992
ISBN 13: 9780140151053
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Finished Pig Earth, the first part of the trilogy -- love reading this in general. Clear, vivid prose, solid yet liquid. A masterpiece of a story about a favorite cow gone a bit cuckoo (such a vivid image of it seeking and finding the valley lorded over by two white bulls) and ultimately loaded onto the butcher's truck -- will need to return to that part and read again at some point. An interesting yet for me forgettable essay/intro about the political economy of the disappearing peasant class of mid-20th C. rural France. Narrated by Jean, a 70-year-old widowerer who spent 40 years in Buenos Aires, raised two children, and has returned to the mountains to live out his days (or so it seems). Stories interspersed with good short poems that reinforce the verticality of life in these parts, the cliffs and ravines. Really makes you feel for slaughtered pigs and cows -- the lifecycle of the pig from baby to buried hambone. The introduction of machines and how the peasants are scammed -- plus tips on how to gather blueberries, raise a barn, hide from Nazis, and long-lost alpine agrarian arts like that. Many character names, not always so sure who's who, but that's OK once the second half of this focuses on the Cocadrille, a halfling, manic pixie forest-type sprite girl now elderly, more than half out of her mind, or better yet charmed, who ultimately meets a violent end like the animals but seems in the mind of Jean to live on, restored to her youth. Compare/contrast with manic pixie forest-type sprite in Julien Gracq's masterpiece A Balcony in the Forest. The narrator always nicely relays a semi-mystical sense of reality permeable by ghosts and dreams and the ever-present always. An old man's novella, really -- the old ways of the world are on their way out, and Jean's time has passed too. Yet while still alive he lives in this liminal alpage zone of poetry, prose, and essay, and past, present, if not much future. The prose seems to me like a model of sincere artful maturity. My first Berger fiction -- looking forward to the rest of the trilogy and later on reading G.
Finished Once In Europa, the second part of the trilogy. More of the same, sans poetry interludes, comparatively more sustained stories, more fully centered around dramatized characters, the same sudden violence, the flock high up in the mountains downed at once by lightning, the dual sudden factory-related tragedies in the title novella (the clearest and probably best part of this so far, its centerpiece), focused more on late-stage peasantry now, the modern world's encroachment all the more advanced, but still the legless man knows how to take away the pain of burn victims and stop the bleeding of a man who accidentally cut his jugular with a chainsaw. "Into Their Labors" could have been titled "Endangered Species" and been more popular maybe? Looking forward to the final part of the trilogy, another 150 pages or so.
Skimmed the last part, Lilac And Flag. Just not into it. Not as accessible -- the prose seemed like the work of a finger on a steamed-up mirror. I quit on it, essentially, soon after the television exploded. Too restless, want to move on to something else and can feel how this one will move at a 10-page-a-day pace. Maybe because the opening started with butterflies I never quite believed this part? I'm sure I'm missing a pivotal scene that summarizes and concludes everything but that's OK. Maybe I'll return to it later once I've read more of him.
Generally, this has some high alpine peaks that make it worthwhile but my attention fell off toward the end.
I should probably move the above bits to their respective books but nah. My all-important provision of stars won't reflect the third part of the trilogy.
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Read information about the authorJohn Peter Berger was an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a college text.
Later he was self exiled to continental Europe, living between the french Alps in summer and the suburbs of Paris in winter. Since then, his production has increased considerably, including a variety of genres, from novel to social essay, or poetry. One of the most common themes that appears on his books is the dialectics established between modernity and memory and loss,
Another of his most remarkable works has been the trilogy titled Into Their Labours, that includes the books Pig Earth (1979), Once In Europa (1983) Lilac And Flag (1990). With those books, Berger makes a meditation about the way of the peasant, that changes one poverty for another in the city. This theme is also observed in his novel King, but there he focuses more in the rural diaspora and the bitter side of the urban way of life.
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