A Fortunate Man by John Berger


It is a cold and wet evening; maybe the last of the winter storms, and with a glass of Johnny Walker Black label by my side I thought that I would talk about a book that I would like to read. A book that is on my wish list.

How can you recommend a book that you have not read? Well, three answers come readily to mind. One it is a book recommended by a Spanish GP, whose judgement I hold in high esteem. Secondly, I am fascinated by the writer, whose breadth of knowledge ranges from Art Criticism ( Ways of seeing…) through Novels ( To the wedding, G), Poetry, Plays and much more. A really incredible writer who has lived his last twenty or thirty years in a little village in the French Alps.

I was deeply affected by one book of his called “Here is where we meet”, (2005) where he meets friends and family, who have passed away, in different circumstances and places. It sounds morbid but I found it enthralling and deeply moving.


And thirdly, the topic – a Fortunate Man was written in 1967, and is about an English country GP ( General Practitioner), John Sassall. Berger is the author but the book features the photographs

of Jean Mohr. The GP and writer, Gavin Francis recently wrote in the Guardian newspaper:

” First published in 1967, A Fortunate Man is a masterpiece of witness: a moving meditation on humanity, society and the value of healing. It’s a collaborative work that blends John Berger’s text with Jean Mohr’s photographs in a series of superb analytical, sociological and philosophical reflections on the doctor’s role, the roots of cultural and intellectual deprivation and the motivations that drive medical practice. The subject of the book, John Sassall, emerges as an individual deeply committed to inner reflection as well as to his vocation as a physician. When I was a newly qualified doctor it became my habit to give copies as gifts.”

It seems like a “must-read” and I am thinking of introducing it as a kind of course book

in some of my courses of Medical English. So, I must thank Dr Caterina Vicens for introducing me to this work.  It is now definitely on my “wish list” and when I return from Russia I will  begin to read it.

Have a great Saturday evening and Sunday.