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The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 31 Jul 1997


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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: 13.1 x 2.5 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,726 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

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Mr. William A. Clarke on 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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91 of 94 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Jan 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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Emily on 3 Jan 2011
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. High on 18 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This Kindle edition is as clear a case of 'give us your money, take what you're given, and go away' if ever there was one.

I expected much better from Penguin Books.

Don't get me wrong, the content of the actual published book (as in the paperback) is excellent, but the proof-reading on the current Kindle edition is awful. The text has quite obviously been put through an optical reader with nobody at the other end bothering to check its output. I have free Kindle editions of books which are better proof-read than this one.

Letter headings appear in the middle of a text thus disprupting the flow, words appear with figures inserted instead of letters, and the formatting of paragraphs is confusing: This happens often. More insulting still is that the reader is not only expected to put up with this but to pay for it too.

Needless to say I have returned this edition for a refund.

Penguin should look to correct this problem as quickly as possible as this attitude does not help their reputation as a quality publisher, nor does it do the Kindle brand any favours.

The Van Gogh student on a budget would be better off getting hold of a second-hand paperback, as quoting from this Kindle edition would be hazardous to say the least.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Georgia Barker on 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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By L. Astbury on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Viva Verdi on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Collector on 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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