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

4.6 out of 5 stars 42 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 (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,028 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 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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
Having read widely about Vincent and Theo van Gogh, and having already read very many of the letters the two brothers had exchanged, I found this book most interesting and revelatory.

Ronald de Leeuw's choice of letters paint a tableau (if I may express myself with those words) not only of Vincent, The Man, but also of Vincent, the Artist. I would say that only by reading all of Vincent's letters (these can be found on a website created by the Van Gogh Museum) would one understand Vincent more thoroughly. Understand his art - and understand his troubled mind - more thoroughly,.

I do though have a criticism of Mr. De Leeuw's book, of his choice of letters. He skips around the fact that both Vincent and Theo had suffered from syphillis. That it had, in fact, carried Theo off. He also skips around the fact of Vincent's relationships with prostitutes, and how he had always fallen in love with the most unsuitable women whom he then persued even after they had told him that they were not interested.

Also, anyone who has knowledge of Vincent's life from biographies, will know that he had very little support from his family, and that even Theo, had at times found it hard to be in his company, found him difficult to live with. From reading this volume of letters, and someone who does not know much about Vincent, will believe that he had a most supportive family. I therefore think that it is a pity that Mr De Leeuw did not also include letters in this volume which show that he was very much a loner without his family's understanding and support.

I do recommend this book to all interested in Vincent
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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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