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Notting Hill Editions



by John Berger, illustrated by Selçuk Demirel

Regular price $19.95
Regular price Sale price $19.95

What happens when an art critic loses some of his sight to cataracts? What wonders are glimpsed once vision is restored?

In this impressionistic essay written in the spirit of Montaigne, John Berger, whose treatises on seeing have shaped cultural and media studies for four decades, records the effects of cataract removal operations on each of his eyes. The result is an illuminated take on perception. Berger ponders how we can become accustomed to a loss of sense until a dulled world becomes the norm, and describes the sudden richness of reawakened sight with acute attention to sensory detail.

This wise little book beckons us to pay close attention to our own senses and wonder at their significance as we follow Berger's journey into a more vivid, differentiated way of seeing. Demirel's witty illustrations complement the text, creating a mini-world where eyes take on whimsical lives of their own. The result is a collaborative collectors' piece perfect for every reader’s bedside table.

Cataract, originally published in 2011, was the first of three books by Berger and Demirel. Smoke was published in 2018, and What Time Is It? was published in 2019.

Additional Book Information

Series: Notting Hill Editions
ISBN: 9781907903328
Pages: 68
Publication Date:


John Berger writes about what is important, not just interesting. In contemporary English letters he seems to me peerless; not since Lawrence has there been a writer who offers such attentiveness to the sensual world.
—Susan Sontag

First published in 2011, when Berger was 84, this book is a kind of late-life accompaniment to Berger’s Ways of Seeing, which remains for many the definitive guide to how to look at a work of art. In Cataract, Berger puts words to the simplest of human actions in a manner so, well, eye-opening that you’ll never, uh, see seeing the same way again.
— Dan Kois, Slate

I love this small book of intricate insight.
—Michael Ondaatje

In this charming, short meditation on the benefits of illumination (as provided by surgeons)...[Berger] compares, whimsically, the dimming of his vision with his clarified post-op perceptions of light, color, tone, and scale, but illustrator Demirel's evocative line drawings complement the brief text perfectly and elucidate Berger's points in ways words cannot. This quiet little book will appeal to thinkers and artists and anyone interested in "seeing.
Library Journal

A slim volume containing the poignant thoughts of an art critic once again blessed with sight, and made aesthetically pleasing by exquisite line drawings by Turkish artist Selçuk Demirel.

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