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

4.6 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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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 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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By xxx on 6 Sept. 2012
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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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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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 July 2010
Format: Paperback
I saw the recent Doctor Who episode with Van Gogh and lo and behold, the next time I go into a local bookshop they have this book cannily displayed. I know Van Gogh's paintings, and I know the basics of his life, also I have read and seen the tv dramatisation ofThe Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles, which if you like this then you will probably also want to read, and vice versa.

Ronald de Leeuw gives us here a selection of Vincent Van Gogh's letters, including the drawings that were on some of them interspersed with biographical sketches of the great man. You should be warned that the biographical pieces are in smaller print than the letters. The letters are on the whole to his brother, but there are some here for instance to his sister, and Gauguin. Because Van Gogh was such a prolific letter writer and a lot of these have been saved over the years, we can find out a lot more about him, as well as where to place his paintings so that they are in the correct chronological order. People sometimes get the impression that Van Gogh was an outright nutter, which is erroneous, or that he cut his ear off, which once again is wrong, he cut off part of the lobe, not the whole ear. This book starts at a time before Van Gogh became an artist and so you can see how he came to the decision to be one, as well as his thoughts and beliefs. I never knew that Van Gogh had spent so much time in this country, or that he was a fan of George Eliot's novels (something I have in common with him), as well as many other things.

Of course there are much more to his letters, including the fact that he had to ask his brother for money, and justify the quantities that he needed. All in all then this is a very illuminating book that will appeal to many diverse people, and is well worth reading.
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