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Art, History, and Postwar Fiction$
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Kevin Brazil

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198824459

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198824459.001.0001

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The Moment of History

The Moment of History

John Berger’s Modernism After Realism

(p.97) 3 The Moment of History
Art, History, and Postwar Fiction

Kevin Brazil

Oxford University Press

John Berger is widely recognized as one of the most influential and idiosyncratic British art critics of the twentieth century; less well known is that many of his ideas about art were first explored in novels responding to Cold War politics. This chapter analyses the engagement with art in Berger’s fiction and criticism of the 1950s and 1960s, situating it within broader debates among British New Left writers such as Raymond Williams and Doris Lessing. It argues that Berger used novels like A Painter of Our Time and G. to explore the limitations of postwar social realism and to articulate a return to the unfulfilled promise of visual and literary modernism, or what Berger called in his novels and criticism the ‘moment’ of Cubism.

Keywords:   John Berger, New Left, Cold War, Cubism, A Painter of Our Time

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