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Grandstanding pity

No sense of history or honour inhibits John Berger from repairing to his Marxist roots in his latest collection of essays. It is a work full of preening self-regard and rancid with bad faith

By Frederic Raphael   January 2008

Hold Everything Dear: dispatches on survival and resistance, by John Berger (Verso, £12.99)

One of the oldest “contemporary” books on my shelves is John Berger’s Permanent Red. Back in 1960, when I bought it, Berger was already an incarnadine seer whose didactic art criticism matched Christopher Caudwell’s Studies in a Dying Culture in proclaiming the Marxist advent. In Berger’s novel A Painter of Our Time (1958), the hero is imagined returning to Budapest after the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956—in which 99.9 per cent of the Hungarian population rose against the Russians and their puppets—in order to assist János Kádár, and…

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