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The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Vincent Van Gogh , Arnold Pomerans
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 July 1997 Penguin Classics

A new selection of post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gough's letters, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh put a human face on one of the most haunting figures in modern Western culture. In this Penguin Classics edition, the letters are selected and edited by Ronald de Leeuw, and translated by Arnold Pomerans in Penguin Classics.

Few artists' letters are as self-revelatory as Vincent van Gogh's, and this selection, spanning his artistic career, sheds light on every facet of the life and work of this complex and tortured man. Engaging candidly and movingly with his religious struggles, his ill-fated search for love, his attacks of mental illness and his relation with his brother Theo, the letters contradict the popular myth of van Gogh as an anti-social madman and a martyr to art, showing instead a man of great emotional and spiritual depths. Above all, they stand as an intense personal narrative of artistic development and a unique account of the process of creation.

The letters are linked by explanatory biographical passages, revealing van Gogh's inner journey as well as the outer facts of his life. This edition also includes the drawings that originally illustrated the letters.

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) was born in Holland. In 1885 he painted his first masterpiece, The Potato Eaters, a haunting scene of domestic poverty. A year later he began studying in Paris, where he met Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Seurat, who became very important influences on his work. In 1888 he left Paris for the Provencal landscape at Arles, the subject of many of his best works, including Sunflowers.

If you enjoyed The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, you might also like 100 Artists Manifestos, available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'If there was ever any doubt that Van Gogh's letters belong beside those great classics of artistic self-revelation, Cellini's autobiography and Delacroix's journal, this excellent new edition dispels it'

The Times


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (31 July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140446745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140446746
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The best book of writing on art I have read." -- The Week --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

That Vincent van Gogh was one of the greatest painters in the history of European art is now generally accepted. That he was a man of high intelligence and tender affections these letters abundantly establish. By their directness and humility they bring us an intimate understanding of genius. To anyone interested in painting or in the mind of a creative artist they are indispensable.

But what makes them of supreme importance is their fascination for people who have, in the ordinary way, no particular interest in the arts. It is the human spirit, not fame of the artist, that is the secret of their perennial attraction.

This selection by Professor Mark Roskill, who contributes an introduction and notes, also includes the memoir of van Gogh written by his sister-in-law.

The cover shows van Gogh's portrait of his friend the postman Roulin, 'a man who is neither embittered, nor sad, nor perfect, nor happy, nor always irreproachably right. But such a good soul and so wise and so full of feeling and so trustful.'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village in Brabant on the Belgian border, the oldest son of Theodoras van Gogh and his amiable wife, Anna Cornelia Carbentus (their first child, also named Vincent, had been stillborn exactly one year earlier). Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read! 9 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recently visited the marvellous Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and was stimulated to buy this book. I love the paintings of Van Gogh but my knowledge of the man was superficial. I knew the basics, that he was considered to be mad, had lopped part of his ear off and eventually shot himself. The letters reveal a very different personality fighting all his life against mental illness to perform some of the greatest art the world has seen. He was a highly intelligent, sensitive man who read deeply and poured all his emotions into the letters. Like many people with a personality disorder Van Gogh had great difficulties maintaining relationships and virtually fell out with everybody close to him. In many ways the remarkable letters must have acted like a safety valve until the final terrible tragedy. This is a book I galloped through and thoroughly enjoyed.
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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spirit of a Great Artist 27 Jan 1999
By A Customer
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight into a fascinating man 3 Jan 2011
By Emily
Format:Paperback
I always disagreed with people's views that Vincent Van Gogh was nothing but a madman. This book is proof that he was a sensitive, caring and very down to earth person. Always addressing his brother as "my dear Theo" and ending with "your loving brother, Vincent" these letters allow you to experience Vincent's thought processes about his work, the extremely close bond he had with his brother, and towards the end of his life, his battles with self doubt and anxiety attacks. If anything, this book has made me appreciate Van Gogh more as a person, and I hope to make time to visit the official Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Any fan of Van Gogh, or Art in general will find this a really interesting read into one of the greatest painters in history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 6 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback
A beautiful insight into Vincent's mind. His letters were so loving, some of them short, but all showed how much beauty he saw in natural world that was so kind to him while the human world was so cruel.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, engrossing read 3 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback
Having seen the exhibition at the Royal Academy, and being frustrated at not being able to read the letters, - or afford the very expensive full translated set, I bought this book. Not a book you can fly through, but a fascinating insight into the relationship between Vincent, his family, his brother, and into his thinking on art. It packs a a very great deal into a small volume. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving 4 April 2012
Format:Paperback
At times prophetic and always heartfelt, this collection of Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo left a deep impression on me. You don't have to be a lover of Art to appreciate the boundless commitment Van Gogh had for his work. He was desperate to express himself through his paintings, which makes the letters all the more poignant knowing that he never knew the heights the appreciation of his work would reach.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Vincent revealed! 11 July 2011
Format:Paperback
This collection of letters is astounding. They reveal the thoughts, hopes, and above all doubts of one of the greatest artists of all time. That is what makes this book fascinating, how could such a talented individual ever have such doubts about his work and ability? These candid confessions and emotional outpourings to his brother Leo reveal Vincent Van Gogh to be a great thinker besides a great painter. Found myself underlining particularly poignant parts, and this from someone who hates the sacriledge of writing in books! A must read for anyone interested in just what makes us who we all are - from the humble to the great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 6 Sep 2012
By xxx
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have become a little obsessed with van Gogh, so I found this book fascinating.
His letters are very revealing and much more enlightening than the usual 'life of the artist' offering. Van Gogh talks about his work in his letters, plans his work and sends Theo little drawings of them. It also shows that works such as the famous 'starry night' painted from the asylum window at st Remy was not the manically painted work many have tried to label it as, it was planned, he talks about wanting to paint such a work (see Professor biome on it being astromically correct).
Due to a good index it is possible to 'trace' his ideas etc. about various works, I have taken notes on works so when I go to look at them I can also reflect on van gogh's feelings about the work.
Great little book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh
I really liked this book. It is very revealing about the artist and rather poignant at times. He was a very skilled letter writer and one can certainly feel the strong bond... Read more
Published 4 months ago by tobykin
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed out the chunk I bought it for!
I was frankly a bit disappointed because I was researching colour and this book just summerised the period during which VG was talking at length about colour by saying something... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
So moving. Had the man come alive and allowed us to feel his extraordinary passion for life, colour and art.
Published 4 months ago by JEC45
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a true classic...
A very well crafted book. I enjoyed reading Van Gogh's description of his images and later looking at images of the painting in another book. Read more
Published 6 months ago by sym
5.0 out of 5 stars better than I thought would be
As relevant today as ever it was.. revealing and touching especially for those interested in human relationships and art and artists. Read more
Published 8 months ago by A. W. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read
A fascinating look into VVG's life, motivation and inspirations. The narrative links used to fill gaps in the letters are concise and add valuable additional information. Read more
Published 22 months ago by C
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but full of typos
It seems that Kindle books are not proof read before they are published.

This excellent book is no exception. Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2012 by Goff
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence
An excellent and very interesting insight into the painter. It brings his world to life and the support from his brother.
Well worth reading.

Adrian Winbow.
Published on 5 Nov 2011 by Adrian Winbow
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