A Fortunate Man
Non-fiction , 1967
In this quietly revolutionary work of social observation and medical philosophy, John Berger and the photographer Jean Mohr train their gaze on an English country doctor and find a universal man –one who has taken it upon himself to recognize his patient's humanity when illness and the fear of death have made them unrecognizable to themselves. In the impoverished rural community in which he works, John Sassall tend the maimed, the dying, and the lonely. He is not only the dispenser of cures but the repository of memories. And as Berger and Mohr follow Sassall about his rounds, they produce a book whose careful detail broadens into a meditation on the value we assign a human life.
First published thirty years ago, A Fortunate Man remains moving and deeply relevant –no other book has offered such a close and passionate investigation of the roles doctors play in their society.
“In 1967 A Fortunate Man marked the most significant step forward in the collaboration of a writer and photographer since Let us Now Praise Famous Men by Walker Evans and James Agee. Incredibly, it still does … A masterpiece.” Geoff Dyer
“It’s one of my favourite books in the world, an ongoing inspiration as to how books should be written (and photography used).” Alain de Botton
“A genuine tour de force …The intimate portrait of one man and his microscopic world reveals the faults and strains of a whole society” Observer
“I only wish I could do justice in a few words to the richness that makes this book so compelling.” Guardian
“John Berger seems to me peerless; not since Lawrence has there been a writer who offers such attentiveness to the sensual world with responsiveness to the imperatives of conscience.” Susan Sontag