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4.6 out of 5 stars
Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh
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83 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2005
I, like the many reviewers of this book, was enthralled and inspired by this collection of letters when I first read it 25 years ago. I have recommended it to many friends. At the time I would have given it five stars or even more if they were available. Irving Stone writes in his preface "My aim has been to edit the 1670 pages of material down to a swiftly flowing, continuous normal-sized book..." He succeeded but even 25 years ago I was a little disturbed by the complete absence of indications where exactly Mr. Stone had done his cutting, or his editing. Today, in the age of internet we can now do some easy checking. The unabridged letters are on the net and reveal that basically what this Dear Theo is, is another novel written by Irving Stone. There is almost no resemblance to the original letters. The novelist has used his talents and the raw material to create a beautiful saga. Worth reading, but let the reader beware.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 1999
"Dear Theo" should be mandatory reading for all students of fine art today, as no modern artist injected a level of passion into their work equal to that of Van Gogh in 1880 through 1890. This volume is a sort of highlight reel of Vincent's comments on his life and art to his beloved brother Theo. I recommend "The Complete Van Gogh" published by Taschen to accompany "Dear Theo", as there are no visual examples of Vincent's art aside from the cover included in this book. No one who appreciates fine art will be sorry to invest in either publication.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 1999
The book provides an excellent cross-section of letters painting a vivid picture of Van Gogh's life. It is not an all-in-one biography, though, in that Van Gogh makes references to work that only curators and art historians can picture. It would have been nice to have a black and white thumbnail of the finished paintings as Van Gogh wrote of them.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 1997
Irving Stone introduced much of the world to Vincent Van Gogh through his superb bio/novel'Lust For Life'but here it's the artist himself that tells the moving,dramatic story that no fictive acount can touch.While Stone's editorial gifts are considerable the true star of this important compilation is of course the 'Author'.We discover within these pages a mind,a heart,and a soul that shine with an intensity rivaled only by the masters own glowing canvases.An artist who 'paints'with words as effectively as with a brush is a rarity.When Vincent describes an observed scene we feel as though we are there.When he begs,cajoles and pleads with brother Theo for more funds for'the work'we sense that it is the artists life itself that is at stake.While it's true that a modern day tragedy is revealed here even more so we can witness a courageous triumph of the spirit over adversity in the extreme. There are few human documents that speak so directly to one as this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2007
It is not as easy a read as Stone's van Gog biography Lust For Life, but for fans, it's a deep book.

Vincent tells of how he went into the fields to paint, and then a rain storm came. He sought meager shelter behind a big tree while it lasted, and then resumed. And because he had started with a low vantage point, he now had to stand on his knees in the mud! He seems to merely mention this to point out why he considers common workman's clothes to be the artist's best friend...

He also tells how he went out to paint the sea, in a storm so strong he could barely stay on his feet. One painting got so full of sand from the beach that he went to a nearby inn and retouched it... and then went back out into the storm to finish it with fresh impressions!

Today, most of us: "Go out with the camera today? Nah, it's a bit nippy, and I just got the Sopranos on DVD..."

Irving Stone edited Dear Theo, and while he may have done a good job generally, I think it was a disservice to the material to not indicate where he cut it. It is just one long text, no dates and no indication where each quote starts or ends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 1998
I read Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo shortly after I saw the Van Gogh exhibit in Washington, DC. The effect was overwhelming. So much pain. So much loneliness. So much genius! We all are the richer for his pain and his poverty!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 1998
A triumph of a book, a definitive and soulful look into the life and times of one of the greatest painters since the inception of cave painting. I could feel the Artiste's loneliness, his eccentricity, his passion for colours, his love for humanity and the innate tragedy of his unhappy life. A book which can occupy you for days after you have finished reading it. A prize buy.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2002
These letters speak the truth of van Gogh. This book opens a window of knowledge on a man so misunderstood to the world. At 14, I absolutely am in love with this book. "Dear Theo" has ignited a fire in my soul, a burning desire to study art and the men behind the works.
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23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2001
Vincent Van Gogh was a great painter, but not a writer. So these letters are of interest in terms of history and painting. The life of Van Gogh is better exposed here than it would have been in a "real" autobiography, because Theo, his younger brother, was the only real friend Vincent ever had. He was his supporter, admirer and listener, and in fact Vincent had an emotional dependence on his brother. People interested in the process of artistic creation and creativity will find this book of enormous value and interest, since Van Gogh speaks a lot about that process in himself, one of the greatest painters of all time. But it is true, as one reviewer said, that these letters include, each and every one, eternal whining and begging from Vincent to his brother. He was, of course, always out of money and, as a genius really disconnected from the common world, unable to make a living by conventional activities. So he depended almost entirely on Theo. I would like to insist in that, although by no means a literary accomplishment, these letters are worth reading, since they expose naked the soul of a great artist and an extremely sensitive man, certainly a tortured and twisted soul.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2014
I bought this book in Medical School, just after its.release; it is my favorite non-fiction book (actually. I cannot think of a fictional book that is more memorable, either.) I have never forgotten it, and after it was lost last year, I will be buying it to re-read it. It reveals a much more admirable soul than other artists whose biographies I have read- it demonstrates that he was not "crazy," as may be the popular notion. Simply beautiful....
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