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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Agony and the Ecstasy
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 1999
Michelangelo and 16th century Italy come alive in a novel where plot, characters and history blend together beautifully. Stone gives readers a detailed insight of what it meant to be an artist of that period. This book made me want to grab the next flight to Florence to see the masterpieces which he describes so well. You can feel the marble dust in your eyes and smell the paint as he describes the way Michelangelo worked. Have a good, illustrated art encyclopedia at hand as you read this book -- you'll find yourself continually looking at the masterpieces he talks about. A really excellent read for art enthusiasts and non.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 1999
A wonderful book that captures the genius, the brilliance and yet the suffering of Michelangelo. Not only biographical but also a historical account of life and times in Florence and Rome during the tremendous Renaissance era. Michelangelo's passion for his craft is inspiring and motivating and Stone's account of his life is magical.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2000
What a wonderful book, quite simply the best book I have ever read. Touching inspirational, moving, a book I could not put down. The only disappointment was finishing it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I read this some years ago and still remember how enthralling I found the evocation of Michelango as a passionate and committed artist. The descriptions of him carving were so real that I could feel the stone alive and warm beneath his hands, and the gradual revealing of what was inside.

I agree with the negative reviewers that there are some basic historical mistakes and a shying away from the sexuality of the subject; but both of those were forgiveable by me in the sheer ability to depict the artist. This is, after all, a novel rather than a historical work or biography and so I think some lenience is due to the story that the author chose to tell (regardless of whether the reader sees it as 'true' or not).

For me this was a brilliant novel that captured something of the despair and yet glory of the creative process; and led me on to more academic works on Michelangelo.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2005
The lukewarm reviews seem to have missed the point: this is a biographical novel and that's how it should be judged. True, Michelangelo's sexual orientation may or may not have been different from Stone's interpretation but, unlike our present day obsession with this subject, Stone is far more interested in understanding the creation of the works themselves. His insight into the different problems (the political and social problems, yes, but more importantly the technical ones) presented by each sculpture project or painting is phenomenal. People tend to forget just how revolutionary every one of Michelangelo's major works was - Irving Stone gets to the heart of this. As a marble carver myself I have found more technical instruction in this book than in most manuals. In short, if you want great fiction read Anne Tyler, but if you want to read a brave and honest attempt to understand the brilliance of one man who overturned the conventions of Art with almost every work he made, read this.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2001
I really liked this book. It gives an indication of how hard it was to obtain knowledge of the human body when it was frowned upon to do anything that was considered to desicrate the body. Although it was hard going sometimes, on the whole I thought it was interesting and gave me an insight into the life of Michaelangelo and the period in which he lived. His account of painting the Sistine chapel was particularly vivid. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the history of art (and science) but who doesn't want to be bombarded by lists of dates and events. This account is told in a story like manner which makes you want to find out more.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This book is very high in my list of greatest works that I have read. I found the style very readable and full of great detail. At the end of the book there is a long list of source material that Stone has used in the preparation. I can not disagree more with one of the other reviewers who feels that the book has only lasted because of the film. I found the film to be leaded and over simplistic with some terrible miscasting. Since reading this book for the first time I have looked into the works of Michelangelo and have found that it is a great introduction to the great artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read this some years ago and still remember how enthralling I found the evocation of Michelango as a passionate and committed artist. The descriptions of him carving were so real that I could feel the stone alive and warm beneath his hands, and the gradual revealing of what was inside.

I agree with the negative reviewers that there are some basic historical mistakes and a shying away from the sexuality of the subject; but both of those were forgiveable by me in the sheer ability to depict the artist. This is, after all, a novel rather than a historical work or biography and so I think some lenience is due to the story that the author chose to tell (regardless of whether the reader sees it as 'true' or not).

For me this was a brilliant novel that captured something of the despair and yet glory of the creative process; and led me on to more academic works on Michelangelo.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2011
What a wonderful book. I was lucky that my daughter recommended it to me a fortnight before I first visited Florence - it enhanced the visit enormously, quite apart from being one of the best books in its own right that I have ever read. This was not an author I had come acrosss before (no idea why!) but I have since bought 4 of his other books!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2008
Quite simply the best book I have ever read and one I read again and again - I don't think I will ever get tired of it. I bought the paperback years ago but it is now so tatty that I bought the hard cover edition - that has also become well thumbed. I was lucky enough to get a copy signed by Stone (my most loved possession). Absolutely brilliant book about possibly the greatest artist that ever lived. Who cares about his sexual orientation? Stone is right to ignore - or 'gloss over' it, Michelangelo was a genius and the author manages to show you that. This book inspired me not only to read more about Michelangelo but also to travel to see some of his works for myself - I can't think of a greater accolade for any book! It's nothing like the film;it's much, much better. If I was able to give it 20 stars I would!!!!
Incidentally, Stone has written other great books - maybe not quite so good but still excellent; e.g. Lust For Life (Vincent Van Gogh)- also better than the film!!! The Agony and the Ecstasy
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