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Letters of Vincent van Gogh Paperback – November 18, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416580867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416580867
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This thorough collection of van Gogh's letters has been assembled with an artful eye and sensitivity to the artist's thinking. The result is an atypical take on Vincent van Gogh that avoids putting too much stress on his troubled mental state and too much straining by the editor to shape a narrative out of van Gogh's epistolary clues. Instead, we see the thoughtful and contemplative side of this creative genius, as well as his concern for the impact his art and life had on those people closest to him. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Van Gogh was 37 and on the edge of fame when, in 1890, he shot and killed himself. Unable to sell his brilliant canvases, he was utterly dependent upon his younger brother, Theo, to whom most of the letters collected here are written. Anguished by loss of faith after planning to be a priest, disappointed in several once-promising love affairs, he was also so tormented by poverty that one of his artistic breakthroughs occurred when, without proper colors, he brushed in "a garden, green by nature, but painted without actual green, nothing but Prussian blue and chrome yellow." Whether van Gogh's suicide was the inevitable culmination of depression, or due to epilepsy or to professional frustration (he is remembered, beyond his pictures, for razoring off part of his ear), his letters reveal that the end was long contemplated. In 1878, he had written to Theo, "It must be good to die in the knowledge that one has done some truthful work." By the time he put a hole in his chest, he knew he had done that. The letters, edited by de Leeuw, the director of the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, echo the artist's passionate voice, and the connective narrative excerpts other letters that readers may regret not having in full. Integral to the letters are 49 pen-and-ink sketches that evidence van Gogh's development into a creative force. Although each letter possesses an inherent pathos because one knows what lies ahead, van Gogh's epistolary appeal goes beyond melodrama. Often inspired by books despite being a limner of peasant life and the land, he once wrote, "How beautiful Shakespeare is, who else is as mysterious as he is; his language and method are like a brush trembling with excitement and ecstasy."
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

After reading these letters I feel close to the Van Goghs.
J. Keeling
These letters shed light on the inner thoughts and the inspiration for his art and show him as a person of great passion and compassion.
BeachReader
This is probably the most terrific book I have ever read in my whole life.
luca cippone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book several years ago in a college bookstore. How fortunate these students were to have been able to read and discuss this with others! I have had a long interest in Van Gogh and found this book to be fascinating, an almost voyeuristic look into his short life. I am glad to see that it is available * * and would hope that people now seeing the traveling Van Gogh portraiture exhibit might read it.
De Leeuw has compiled letters covering over 25 years of Van Gogh's life, letters that offer the reader an intimate look into the artist's thoughts and emotions. He writes about his friendships, his family, his attempts at love affairs, his religious beliefs and questions, and most importantly, about his art. These letters reveal him as anything but the anti-social person often portrayed in the past, with the ones about his relationship with his brother Theo being particularly touching.
Van Gogh was a prolific correspondent and an absolutely wonderful writer. His prose is remarkable--he could have been a writer as well as an artist. These letters shed light on the inner thoughts and the inspiration for his art and show him as a person of great passion and compassion.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
While Vincent van Gogh has always been one of my favorite artists, this compilation of his letters combined with a more in-depth study of his work has intensified my appreciation of him as both an artist and a person. I've always felt it was impossible to separate this particular artist from his work and reading his letters has led me to a better understanding of why this is. These letters beautifully capture his soul and spirit and reveal him as the caring, expressive and socially aware person that he was. The combination of strength of character and vulnerability expressed in these letters explain both the intensity and sensitivity of his work.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on February 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
A very fine collection of the letters, with multiple sides of VVG revealed. To read a collection of letters by an artist whose work you know very well is to invite yourself to take a look at him as a person. As a person, I found that I liked him best in these letters when he was struggling with his religion, his art, and his purpose. I'm glad that Roskill didn't make a selection that focused solely on the more famous and theatrical depressions.
I don't agree that this work reveals Van Gogh as a writer. For me, they definitely confirmed his status as a painter. At his best in these letters, he's painting with words.
Which doesn't make it a less interesting read. I found this a good adjunct to taking a look at the work again, it added an extra dimension to experiencing him as a painter.
Well worth the time it takes.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By luca cippone on May 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is probably the most terrific book I have ever read in my whole life. Before I bought this book I couldn't believe how Van Gogh 's life was so joined to his brother Theo and , after reading this book ,I realized how important could be in your life the presence of such an important person as a brother that support your life's choise as an artist or any other thing which needs strong support and stubborness to be archived. This told,the book offer Van Gogh's mail to Theo disclosing the whole process of Van Gogh artistic development from the early years when he was spending his lonely life ,to his relationship with Sien ,to the days of the great hope (Antwerp,Paris), to the total ruin in Arles and Sain Remi' in south of France. All those letter ends with a greeting from Van Gogh which I consider unique and that I want to borrow for my own: With a hand-shake your faithful Luca.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By jc on December 19, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this collection of van gogh's letters to his brother Theo both captivated me and broke my heart. Such an intimate look into the vulnerability of the artistic soul. Those who appreciate the artistic process will love this collection of letters. You don't need to be an admirer of Van Gogh's to appreciate this; but you will walk away admiring the man behind the sunflowers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Van Gogh is a tremendously powerful letter- writer. In these letters mostly written to his brother we see a great , suffering , soul, a devoted artist tormented and striving. This may all sound like 'cliche' but Van Gogh is perhaps the most conspicuous example of the cliche of the suffering , rejected in- his- life artist who knows great recognition only after death.

Van Gogh is a person of great intelligence, and of a very strong conscience. There are no greater letters I think ever written by an artist.And while they may be filled with a troubled and agonized spirit they too have a great richness of feeling and appreciation of life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brad Ulrich on October 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
It felt strangely voyeuristic to read this collection of letters because of the intimacy of the letters and the passion that lies in Van Gogh's writing. Reading this has helped me paint a better picture in my mind of the man that he really was. A quite fascinating collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By the painter on September 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a connection with a wonderfully prolific artist's joys and troubles. I enjoyed reading his intimate letters with his brother, never knowing that they would end up in print makes it all the more interesting to me. It is a very nicely done book. I will treasure it always.
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