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Lust for Life is the classic fictional re-telling of the incredible life of Vincent Van Gogh. "Vincent is not dead. He will never die. His love, his genius, the great beauty he has created will go on forever, enriching the world... He was a colossus... a great painter... a great philosopher... a martyr to his love of art. " Walking down the streets of Paris the young Vincen Lust for Life is the classic fictional re-telling of the incredible life of Vincent Van Gogh. "Vincent is not dead. He will never die. His love, his genius, the great beauty he has created will go on forever, enriching the world... He was a colossus... a great painter... a great philosopher... a martyr to his love of art. " Walking down the streets of Paris the young Vincent Van Gogh didn't feel like he belonged. Battling poverty, repeated heartbreak and familial obligation, Van Gogh was a man plagued by his own creative urge but with no outlet to express it. Until the day he picked up a paintbrush. Written with raw insight and emotion, follow the artist through his tormented life, struggling against critical discouragement and mental turmoil and bare witness to his creative journey from a struggling artist to one of the world's most celebrated artists.


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Lust for Life is the classic fictional re-telling of the incredible life of Vincent Van Gogh. "Vincent is not dead. He will never die. His love, his genius, the great beauty he has created will go on forever, enriching the world... He was a colossus... a great painter... a great philosopher... a martyr to his love of art. " Walking down the streets of Paris the young Vincen Lust for Life is the classic fictional re-telling of the incredible life of Vincent Van Gogh. "Vincent is not dead. He will never die. His love, his genius, the great beauty he has created will go on forever, enriching the world... He was a colossus... a great painter... a great philosopher... a martyr to his love of art. " Walking down the streets of Paris the young Vincent Van Gogh didn't feel like he belonged. Battling poverty, repeated heartbreak and familial obligation, Van Gogh was a man plagued by his own creative urge but with no outlet to express it. Until the day he picked up a paintbrush. Written with raw insight and emotion, follow the artist through his tormented life, struggling against critical discouragement and mental turmoil and bare witness to his creative journey from a struggling artist to one of the world's most celebrated artists.

30 review for Lust for Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    I have always been fascinated with Vincent Van Gogh's art and of the man himself. Starry Night is my favorite painting. Irving Stone allows us a peek at Van Gogh the person and how the events of his life shaped the genius of his painting. Stone uses his pen as a brush to paint his portrait of Van Gogh and helped me to better understand the man behind the paintings.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ra

    This is a book I can read in less than 24 hours (24 hours for almost 600 pages in Indonesian translation) I have a little problem with rating stars, I can't give this book only a 5 star. It deserves a 10 stars!! It's by far my most favorite book, I won't lend this book to anyone so then I can reread it whenever I want ;), I'll put it on my precious collection. If I'm not wrong this is his word when he had a heated debate with Gauguin; Van Gogh: 'It is not the language of painters but the language of This is a book I can read in less than 24 hours (24 hours for almost 600 pages in Indonesian translation) I have a little problem with rating stars, I can't give this book only a 5 star. It deserves a 10 stars!! It's by far my most favorite book, I won't lend this book to anyone so then I can reread it whenever I want ;), I'll put it on my precious collection. If I'm not wrong this is his word when he had a heated debate with Gauguin; Van Gogh: 'It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures.' He's genius and he's still young when he said that. This is what designers need to embrace when they do their work, good design is a design with a soul.. SOUL,- find the essence of your design, not only design pretty stuff. What a tragic life he has, never received happiness and poor during his lifetime but became popular after his death. He should have lived longer then produced more great works, I wish he could see now that he's a great painter in history and sold the most expensive paintings in the world The book gives me a suspicion that Gauguin who cut off Vincent's ear. He seemed to be so annoying for Vincent with his vanity as senior painter. I dislike the way Gauguin underestimated Vincent. Vincent was really a kind friend let him stayed with him in yellow house for free. And the saddest thing, his life is still in mystery, last 2009 I've read the news, he never shot himself, so who actually shot him. I feel so sorry for Theo, the best brother ever. I must admit it, this book brought me into tears, impressive job for Stone Irving and glad to know that this is his first book. P.S I really want to own English version of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    La Tonya Jordan

    This book is set in a period of time where titles, status, manners, and integrity of your family's name is very important. Vincent Van Gogh is testing all venues of social norms. With the constant support, love, and devotion of his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh became the artist, man, and living legend he is today. A name that will live forever in eternity for his contributions in art. He started painting the peasants, laborers, weavers, and the outcast of society long before it was fashionable This book is set in a period of time where titles, status, manners, and integrity of your family's name is very important. Vincent Van Gogh is testing all venues of social norms. With the constant support, love, and devotion of his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh became the artist, man, and living legend he is today. A name that will live forever in eternity for his contributions in art. He started painting the peasants, laborers, weavers, and the outcast of society long before it was fashionable. He actually portrayed these people as he truly saw them in all their hardships, love, perseverance, naivete, kindness, and hatreds leaving the elitist mystified at what was presented before them. When he ventured into color and the Impressionists movement in Paris and later in Arles, his work became breathtaking. But, his life more complex. With an unsettled mind that only the soul could possibly understand, Vincent Van Gogh take his own life. My he rest forever in the peace with the God that created him. Quote 'Try a Cointreau. You'll have to experiment for a while to find your permanent drink.' Vincent took them in the full spirit of friendship which knows that the difference between giving and taking is purely temporal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tory

    I bought this book because it interested me on two levels. First, and ridiculously foremost, the authors name. Irving. The last name of my beloved John. And secondly, it’s a novel about Van Gogh. Van Gogh is nothing if not interesting. Yet, I was surprised at just how into this book I was. I loved it. I loved Van Gogh’s story as an artist. I loved all that other artists in the story. Can you imagine sitting at a cafe in Paris with the likes of Van Gogh, Toulouse-Laurtec, Cezanne, Gauguin, Zola an I bought this book because it interested me on two levels. First, and ridiculously foremost, the authors name. Irving. The last name of my beloved John. And secondly, it’s a novel about Van Gogh. Van Gogh is nothing if not interesting. Yet, I was surprised at just how into this book I was. I loved it. I loved Van Gogh’s story as an artist. I loved all that other artists in the story. Can you imagine sitting at a cafe in Paris with the likes of Van Gogh, Toulouse-Laurtec, Cezanne, Gauguin, Zola and Rousseau? To listen the the arguments and philosophies of the men that were changing the way that people saw art. Because, holy shit would that be awesome. I loved Theo, and how much he and Vincent loved each other. It’s impossible for this book to be all the way true, because how was this author to know the conversations that went on. Also, there seems to be dispute about the infamous ear incident. Some say the whole thing, some say just the lobe. The book says he cut most of it off but left the lobe. But I appreciate it all the same. Not just a biography, and not just a novel. Very good. I have been reading biographies of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Expressionist artists all day. I’m fascinated and intrigued, much more than I thought I would be. I want to see the movie about Vincent and Theo, aptly named, Vincent & Theo, with Tim Roth. Also, have been reading the letters of Van Gogh where Vincent highly encourages Theo to smoke a pipe, as it chases away the blues. Ha!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Janete

    I read this in portuguese and loved it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    El

    Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh? Whoda thunk it. It's like choosing Charlton Heston to play Michelangelo. Oh, wait. That was done too. I didn't expect to like this that much as I went into it. I read The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo and seem to remember thinking it was pretty okay, though strangely I can't recall where or when I read it. But I have this issue with books like this, historical fiction if you will. It's hard for me to suspend my disbelief in books fe Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh? Whoda thunk it. It's like choosing Charlton Heston to play Michelangelo. Oh, wait. That was done too. I didn't expect to like this that much as I went into it. I read The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo and seem to remember thinking it was pretty okay, though strangely I can't recall where or when I read it. But I have this issue with books like this, historical fiction if you will. It's hard for me to suspend my disbelief in books featuring a real person. I want to take the author and shake him/her a few times and ask repeatedly, "Really? Was it really like that? Did so-and-so really say that??" And then heaven forbid the author drop some language that would be inappropriate for the context... forget it. I then hate the entire book. So I went into reading this one thinking I might have that trouble. But I didn't. I actually really enjoyed it. At least once I reached the halfway mark. Once Vincent went off to Paris the story really picked up for me and I realized I seemed to care for these characters. In Paris Stone dropped a lot of artist's names, and there was discussion of pointillism and Impressionism and I'll admit my dorky art-loving heart expanded just a wee bit at all of that. Toulouse-Lautrec? Hot! At the very end of the book there's this teeny little note from Stone in which he discusses the believability of his story. Apparently he got most of his information from the letters between Vincent and his brother, Theo. Incidentally I think I fell in love with Theo in this story. That's a good man, that Theo. There should more folk like him in the world. So whatever I thought about The Agony and the Ecstasy I would say that I probably enjoyed Lust for Life even more. I'm not sure why I feel dirty admitting that, but I sorta do. And there was this whole bit about van Gogh's painting of Bedroom in Arles which sort of made me gooey with love. Since I'm being all intimate here, I will also admit to listening to one of my favorite songs more than once while reading this book today.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David

    I had picked up "Lust for Life" in a secondhand book shop, like most of my books, to read on train trips back and forth from Elmwood Park to downtown Chicago, where I worked opposite the Chicago Tribune building on Michigan Avenue. I knew only a little about art or literature then, and I haven't improved much since that time, although after having read Irving Stone's biography of Van Gogh, I appreciated art and artists much more. I had already read Maugham's "The Moon and Sixpence" based on Paul I had picked up "Lust for Life" in a secondhand book shop, like most of my books, to read on train trips back and forth from Elmwood Park to downtown Chicago, where I worked opposite the Chicago Tribune building on Michigan Avenue. I knew only a little about art or literature then, and I haven't improved much since that time, although after having read Irving Stone's biography of Van Gogh, I appreciated art and artists much more. I had already read Maugham's "The Moon and Sixpence" based on Paul Gaugin, which led me to be interested in Van Gogh. Irving Stone, up to that point, seemed to me more of a "popular" writer, therefore an inferior one as opposed to a literary one, due to his works being made into movies. (My views of who was literary and who was not was due to my own inexperience as a reader. Movies and music, for that matter, can often be extensions of an original written work rather than a cheap imitation, and nowadays they often enrich the reading experience.) Irving Stone opened my eyes through his life of Van Gogh. It is so well written that many of the scenes of his life have stayed with me, and enriched my visits to art museums where his artworks are displayed, especially the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I brought back prints of his paintings to my office in Saudi Arabia where I hung one on my wall-- one of his renditions of the Langlois Bridge, careful not to emphasize too much the human form, since art with human form is bad form according to Wahabi creed, although many young Saudis do not espouse this view today. I encourage readers to try Irving Stone's biographies to see if they suit their tastes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    After finishing Irving Stone’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” I turned to his other historical novel about an artist. Aptly titled “Lust for Life,” the book covers the short painting career of Dutch post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh, who became an artist after failed stints as a teacher and minister. He was 27-years-old. Stone’s principal references were the hundreds of letters exchanged between Vincent and his chief patron, his brother Theo. Luckily, these correspondences survive. Initially, the After finishing Irving Stone’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” I turned to his other historical novel about an artist. Aptly titled “Lust for Life,” the book covers the short painting career of Dutch post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh, who became an artist after failed stints as a teacher and minister. He was 27-years-old. Stone’s principal references were the hundreds of letters exchanged between Vincent and his chief patron, his brother Theo. Luckily, these correspondences survive. Initially, the artist’s somber palette: dark earth tones, lots of browns, mimicked the other Dutch painters. But at the encouragement of his brother, Vincent moved to Paris and discovered the brighter hues being used by the Impressionist artists. Van Gogh’s palette and subject matter brightened as well, but it wasn’t until he moved to sunny Arles, to paint the bright fields of the countryside that the struggling painter hit his creative stride. He also embraced the color most associated with his work: yellow. “As the summer advanced, everything became burnt up. He saw about him nothing but old gold, bronze and copper, covered by a greenish azure sky of blanched heat. There was sulphur yellow on everything the sunlight hit. His canvases were masses of bright burning yellow. He knew that yellow had not been used in European painting since the Renaissance, but that did not deter him. The pigment yellow oozed out of the tubes onto his canvas, and there it stayed. His pictures were sun steeped, sun burnt, tanned with the burning sun and swept with air,” Irving Stone writes. Most of van Gogh’s best-known works were produced during his time in the French countryside. He produced masterpiece after masterpiece as Stone writes: “Every morning Vincent arose before dawn, dressed, and tramped several kilometers down the river or into the country to find a spot that stirred him. Every night he returned with his finished canvas, finished because there was nothing more he could do with it. Directly after supper he went to bed. “He became a blind painting machine, dashing off one sizzling canvas after another without even knowing what he did. The orchards of the country were in bloom. He developed a wild passion to paint them all. He no longer thought about his painting. He just painted. All his eight years of intense labour were at last expressing themselves in a great burst of triumphal energy. Sometimes, when he began working at the first crack of dawn, the canvas would be completed by noon. He would tramp back to town, drink a cup of coffee and trudge out again in another direction with a new canvas. “He did not know whether his painting was good or bad. He did not care. He was drunk with colour.” Vincent’s frenzy certainly must have led to creative exhaustion. Although van Gogh only painted for ten years before committing suicide in 1890, he managed to create an enormous body of work, more than 2,000 pieces, including 900 paintings and roughly 1,100 drawings and sketches. An oeuvre that is today worth billions of dollars, while he died more or less penniless with only his brother Theo to mourn his passing. Stone’s novel is a good initial peak into the artist’s remarkable struggles.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Either Irving Stone is a brilliant author writing this book in a simplistic style in order to capture Van Gogh's simple lifestyle and open-minded thinking (for the day) or this book is a travesty, one that could have been written elegantly in a way that would have reflected the beauty of Van Gogh's art. Since I can't make up my mind which it is, I have compromised with a 3-star rating. What I liked: *The author uses 700-plus letters from Van Gogh to his loving brother, Theo, as the foundation for Either Irving Stone is a brilliant author writing this book in a simplistic style in order to capture Van Gogh's simple lifestyle and open-minded thinking (for the day) or this book is a travesty, one that could have been written elegantly in a way that would have reflected the beauty of Van Gogh's art. Since I can't make up my mind which it is, I have compromised with a 3-star rating. What I liked: *The author uses 700-plus letters from Van Gogh to his loving brother, Theo, as the foundation for this novel. At the end of the book, Stone tells exactly what minor parts are fiction. I was impressed with how accurate he kept this book. Not many people lead lives that can be novelised with so few additions and alterations. And honestly, the fiction part that Stone added seemed glaringly obvious. It was not needed. *I like that the book was divided into 8 sections comprising of the 8 places where he led his life. Each place taught him something new that improved his artwork. *The author did a good job of writing in such a way that the reader felt like they were inside Van Gogh's head. He did this while writing in 3rd person. *I am glad to know that Van Gogh wasn't just the crazy painter who chopped off his ear as I had thought of him previous to reading this book. It was a good history lesson of the time period, also. I loved seeing how Van Gogh grew as a person as well as an artist. The correlation between good artists and hypersensitive natures was painted in bold strokes. What I didn't like: *It took me until I reached the Paris section (288 pages) to accept the writing style. (See opening comments.) I still don't like it but am willing to admit that it may be a stroke of genius. I haven't read any of Stone's other novels so don't know if he always writes this way or if he adopted this style as one that suited Van Gogh's life. *I feel like I must read a biography of Van Gogh now in order to see if Stone's account needs balancing. Since it was written entirely from Van Gogh's view of the world, I would like to know what other people felt and how they saw Van Gogh. Its difficult for me to believe that Van Gogh was as innocent as he comes across to the reader of this book. But maybe he was. Maybe he was so innocent as to appear different from other folks causing the widespread dislike (with the exception of the Borinage). The Borinage could be explained by that the fact that they were honest, simple folk like Van Gogh and therefore a natural bond was formed. So, all in all, I'm glad I read this book, but won't deny that it was a struggle to plow through. *

  10. 5 out of 5

    Romantical Skeptic

    I was going to gripe SO HARD about this book until the very last "author's notes" when I realized the book was published in 1934 and Irving Stone actually got first hand accounts of people who actually knew Van Gogh. The good 1) The research and consistency with at least some research on Van Gogh and what is believed have been the sequence of events in his life -- he relies on VG's letters to his brother Theo, of which there are 800 2) I learned about Theo Van Gogh - the unheralded, loyal to a faul I was going to gripe SO HARD about this book until the very last "author's notes" when I realized the book was published in 1934 and Irving Stone actually got first hand accounts of people who actually knew Van Gogh. The good 1) The research and consistency with at least some research on Van Gogh and what is believed have been the sequence of events in his life -- he relies on VG's letters to his brother Theo, of which there are 800 2) I learned about Theo Van Gogh - the unheralded, loyal to a fault, younger brother of Vincent. It was really because of Theo that Vincent got himself known at all - Theo supported him financially and emotionally all his life - even when others forsook him. 3) Fascinating time period - the convergence of the the big personalities in art (Paul Gaugin, Seurrat, Rousseau) and literature (Zola, Maupassant) must have been quite an intellectual primordial soup to have lived through. They all come across as whackos of course, but this is la vie de l'art! The bad 1) The dialogue is hilariously overwrought. I thought I was reading the script of a soap. A lot of operatic scenes of unrequited love, and expressions of magnificent pain. I really didn't enjoy the language and I think it has a lot to do with how old the book is - maybe this is how people expressed drama in the 30s? 2) I listened to a narration of this book and I really, really, really disliked the male narrator's rendition of female voices. It was AWFUL and cringeworthy. 3) Can you put a real life character in the "bad" column just because you didn't like him? I guess I'm going to. What a whiny brat VGV turns out to be. I know, I know, he most likely suffered from undiagnosed depression all his life but holy hell he whinged an awful lot. His poor parents and brother spend he whole time bailing him out of money troubles and women troubles and this guy just keeps whining. I go back to my belief that when "great" creators create beautiful things, we have to sing the praises of all the supporting cast who let the person even come to a point where that creation was possible. Without Theo, Vincent would have basically starved himself and never created anything. Side note: After reading about all these deep and intense artists, I wonder if their ghosts are upset that their work now adorns dorm rooms and plastic coasters. I wonder if they would be happy to see so many people enjoy their work, or they would feel furious by the pedestrian way we treat what to them was the work of their life?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Natasa

    This is a great book and is a fascinating historical biography of Van Gogh’s life. Like many others, I feel Van Gogh is one of the greatest geniuses, while also one of the saddest stories about artistic genius. I think Irving Stone is amazing for writing a book like this and brilliant in his manner of trying to capture the complexity of the obsessive personality that made Van Gogh who he was.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Camie

    If you like historic fiction and the classics, you will enjoy Irving Stone's books. This one about the tortured life of Vincent Van Gogh is a old favorite. 4.5 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek Talesara

    “You mean you have to make your drawings right so the portraits will be good enough to sell?” “No,” replied Vincent, sketching rapidly with his pencil, “I have to make my drawing right so that my drawing will be right.” This dialogue between Vincent Van Gogh and his mother, read today, may come out as a banal mismatch of mindsets of an artist and a “sane” rational being. Be it Nina Sayers from “Black Swan”, Andrew from “Whiplash” or Howard Roark from “The Fountainhead”, their fury of passion—which “You mean you have to make your drawings right so the portraits will be good enough to sell?” “No,” replied Vincent, sketching rapidly with his pencil, “I have to make my drawing right so that my drawing will be right.” This dialogue between Vincent Van Gogh and his mother, read today, may come out as a banal mismatch of mindsets of an artist and a “sane” rational being. Be it Nina Sayers from “Black Swan”, Andrew from “Whiplash” or Howard Roark from “The Fountainhead”, their fury of passion—which enkindles the soul and smoulders a man slowly from inside until one day its flames engulf him whole and like a Phoenix he rises in his all his glory—was greater than their individual lives. Vincent Van Gogh’s story through the words of Irving stone, stripped off of its embellishments, is imbibed with the same essence; but similar to his artistic works, Vincent’s tale has a striking realism which stirs “something in your bowels”. Under a crude departmentalisation, the book can be divided into three major parts: an artist’s search for himself, passion vs rationale, and the artist vs his own self. Vincent’s lust for life had begun or Stone’s “Lust for Life” life begins with a quest for the meaning of his life; vacillating in a existential worm hole, Vincent initially makes himself believe that it is God who resides at its vortex and only through His work, he can fill in the meaningless void of his life. Striving for meaning, Vincent sets on the gravelled path of evangelical service upon which he stumbles, falls, gets bruised, and finally gives in to his helplessness and gives up his God and once again finds himself in an existential abyss. It is in these dark moments, Vincent inadvertently picks up a tattered and yellowed letter and a piece of charcoal and thus, what followed was a light so strong that it still illuminates innumerable artists putting their heart and soul in their canvases. Stone has jaded “Lust For Life” with several gems in the form of inception and the backstory of a number of Van Gogh’s canvases. Stone adeptly imitates Van Gogh’s masterpieces through his words and does justice to the underlying philosophy and rawness of human nature which constitute the soul of a Van Gogh art work. For an art amateur like myself, who doesn’t possess a fastidious eye of an art critic, Stone caters to the heart the striking aliveness of lifeless canvases. Overall, “Lust for Life” is a page-turner for both—the connoisseurs and the novices in quest for an artistic vision. It’s a book of passion, hope, survival, and love and would definitely impel you to Google Van Gogh’s (and several of his contemporaries) dateless artworks.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Written with a passion reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings, Irving Stone's "Lust for Life" is a fictionalized biography of the famed post-Impressionist painter. Stone starts his story during Van Gogh's teenaged years, living with his strict Calvinist parents (his father was a predikant, a Dutch Calvinist minister), somewhat struggling against the strictures of his life. He himself becomes a Calvinist evangelist and receives a less-than-desirable assignment to a Belgian coal-mining town. It Written with a passion reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings, Irving Stone's "Lust for Life" is a fictionalized biography of the famed post-Impressionist painter. Stone starts his story during Van Gogh's teenaged years, living with his strict Calvinist parents (his father was a predikant, a Dutch Calvinist minister), somewhat struggling against the strictures of his life. He himself becomes a Calvinist evangelist and receives a less-than-desirable assignment to a Belgian coal-mining town. It is there that his interest in art begins, as he starts to sketch the peasants around him. Van Gogh sees beauty in the workaday world and "regular people," far moreso than in models and more typically-expressed concepts of art. Stone's story takes Van Gogh through various stages of his life as he develops his art, gets to know his fellow artists (Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin (with whom he rather infamously lived for a while in Arles), and discovers his various passions. The most poignant part of the book for me concerns Van Gogh's confinement in a maison de sante (insane asylum) in St. Remy, where the inmates are essentially made to take care of themselves, and how he grows to understand more about himself as a result. Stone's Van Gogh is a man tormented by what we would now probably understand as bipolar disorder. He shows the mania of creation, followed by bleak crises of meaning, literal and figurative hunger and more through well-crafted prose and dialogue. Highly recommended for those interested in the life of this fascinating figure.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    Irving Stone has been criticised for being populist, but I really enjoyed this imaginative retelling of Van Gogh's life story. It inspired me to search out his paintings in London's galleries, and you can't want for more than that in a biography of an artist.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Suvi

    I did not like this. At all. Years ago I liked Pierre la Mure's biographical novel Moulin Rouge (1950), which is about the struggles of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, another favorite artist of mine. I still don't understand the point of biographical novels though, because I would rather read a proper objective biography. My problem is the same with historical novels: how can you trust that the author hasn't distorted the events, but has actually done thorough research? Must you have blind faith, th I did not like this. At all. Years ago I liked Pierre la Mure's biographical novel Moulin Rouge (1950), which is about the struggles of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, another favorite artist of mine. I still don't understand the point of biographical novels though, because I would rather read a proper objective biography. My problem is the same with historical novels: how can you trust that the author hasn't distorted the events, but has actually done thorough research? Must you have blind faith, that you're not accidentally learning all the wrong stuff? Maybe I should just learn to read novels as they are: fiction. What was wrong about this then? I think that Stone's story slipped stylistically too much on the biography side. Even though a novel was based in real events or a real person, I would still expect something from the prose. Not colorless and overly simplistic style, but a proper novel with vivid characters. After all, van Gogh's life was incredibly fascinating and tragic, so you would think that there's a lot you can do about that. The biggest problem was, that I was constantly aware I was reading mere words, because there were no emotion behind them. Even the parts where a burning passion toward painting was described were bland and uninspiring. It would have been more fruitful if more had been said, other than van Gogh worked a lot and painted blue skies and stuff. Occasionally Stone uses three periods really annoyingly, like he wants to emphasize an important or shocking scene. The characters were paper thin and boring, and the descriptions of appearance were horribly clumsy. The kind of interesting conversations about art didn't fit into the dialogue, but seemed like they were cut out of a textbook. All in all I am a bit annoyed that I wasted my time on this and actually finished the whole thing. Still, this served as a decent vacuum on August nights, when I was just eager to empty my brain from everything else before going to sleep. I just didn't feel like reading anything else when I was too busy selecting my courses and thinking about the lectures that were just around the corner. Sometimes it's like this: you just have to finish a book, even though it annoys you more and more every second.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Solor

    Masterpiece !! Stone narrative is masterful, impressive, compulsive. Certainly, the fact that the exceptional protagonist of the story is one of the most suffering artist ever existed, makes the flight of imagination to dramatize the Artist life an astounding feat of thorough research, sensibility and empathy. Seemingly, Stone account isn't totally faithful to the facts and the troubled psychology of the man: it is evident the author effort to paint out the Artist as a Jesus Christ figure, pure a Masterpiece !! Stone narrative is masterful, impressive, compulsive. Certainly, the fact that the exceptional protagonist of the story is one of the most suffering artist ever existed, makes the flight of imagination to dramatize the Artist life an astounding feat of thorough research, sensibility and empathy. Seemingly, Stone account isn't totally faithful to the facts and the troubled psychology of the man: it is evident the author effort to paint out the Artist as a Jesus Christ figure, pure and innocent. Great Artist are not saints - this quality would make their Art somehow contained, limited. Said that, Stone succeeds in liberating the novel from the mere account; he creates a separate, extraordinary work of art on his own that reminds me of some of the most powerful novelist of the XIX century. ...I dragged myself through stinking alleys, and with my eyes closed I offered myself to the sun, the god of fire... #rimbaud

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beverley

    I could hardly put this book down. Van Gogh was such an intense man and cared so much for others. He was kind, passionate, talented, and so misunderstood and reviled by so many. When I finished the book, I grieved, for a lost friend.....

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jovana Autumn

    “Art is amoral; so is life. For me there are no obscene pictures or books; there are only poorly conceived and poorly executed ones.” The famous biography of Van Gogh was some time on my to-read list. I love the paintings of Van Gogh, they have always awoken emotion in me, the coloring, the people nature, everything is full of emotion. There isn’t a way to write a review for this book without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that my initial impression was that Stone doesn’t really know how to wri “Art is amoral; so is life. For me there are no obscene pictures or books; there are only poorly conceived and poorly executed ones.” The famous biography of Van Gogh was some time on my to-read list. I love the paintings of Van Gogh, they have always awoken emotion in me, the coloring, the people nature, everything is full of emotion. There isn’t a way to write a review for this book without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that my initial impression was that Stone doesn’t really know how to write, the sentences seemed unpolished and overly simplified. It is as I got to learn more about Van Gogh’s life that I saw how much the writing style is fitting to the artist. And at parts, the writing also managed to evoke emotion in me, which is always a good thing with art. I recommend checking out this book if you are interested in art or Van Gogh, a story of a struggling artist that wasn’t valued and accepted until he was gone, and on that note, I’ll leave with a solid 4/5 stars. -------------------------------------------------------------------- There was always something passionate and painful in his paintings. Review to come.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sahar Frb

    "And when no hope was left in sight On that starry, starry night You took your life, as lovers often do But I could have told you, Vincent This world was never meant for one As beautiful as you."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alvi Harahap

    Lust For Life is Irving Stone's biographical novel about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Reading fiction is one thing but reading a biography calls for loads of patience. Unwittingly I started reading this book which goes by the name Lust for Life by Irving Stone. And yet Lust for Life is a devastatingly sad chronicle of the life and paintings of Vincent. It struck me like a bolt of lightning that not a single canvas that Vincent produced ever went on sale. Vincent could be called Lust For Life is Irving Stone's biographical novel about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Reading fiction is one thing but reading a biography calls for loads of patience. Unwittingly I started reading this book which goes by the name Lust for Life by Irving Stone. And yet Lust for Life is a devastatingly sad chronicle of the life and paintings of Vincent. It struck me like a bolt of lightning that not a single canvas that Vincent produced ever went on sale. Vincent could be called as one of the greatest Impressionists of modern times and yet his life was one of destitute, loneliness and poverty stricken. The world now might buy his paintings for billions but during his lifetime he yearned for only one thing, a respectable decent life. A life of simple bread and butter which he thought he could earn by selling his drawings. Riches however eluded forever and the eternal poverty ultimately led to epilepsy. The only person who believed in Vincent and who supported Vincent financially throughout his life was his younger brother Monsieur Theo Van Gogh. Theo loved Vincent in every way an elder brother could be loved. He worked for an affluent art gallery during the Post-Impressionist era in Paris, and yet couldn’t sell a single painting of his elder sibling. He loved Vincent so much that he not only gave Vincent an allowance of 150 francs a month for a decade but also named his first born after Vincent. Lust for Life is the story of these two brothers. If the stigma of a failed life, lack of love didn’t kill Vincent, it was the burden that he became for his younger brother compelled Vincent to commit suicide. Lust for Life makes me find Vincent didn’t capture nature but captured its essence in his paintings.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    You don't need a strong art history background to appreciate this, the novelized biography of Vincent Van Gogh. Even if you can only remember the names of a few French impressionists and can picture only a painting or two, that's plenty. The more knowledge, the better, but that's all I had, and I found this book both educational and enjoyable. Frum readers should be warned that Van Gogh's relationships with women, including prostitutes, figure into this book. Those scenes are not as explicit as You don't need a strong art history background to appreciate this, the novelized biography of Vincent Van Gogh. Even if you can only remember the names of a few French impressionists and can picture only a painting or two, that's plenty. The more knowledge, the better, but that's all I had, and I found this book both educational and enjoyable. Frum readers should be warned that Van Gogh's relationships with women, including prostitutes, figure into this book. Those scenes are not as explicit as they could have been, but they weren't oblique either. But the main point of the book is Vincent's single-minded dedication to his art and his brother Theo's single-minded dedication to him. You can't help but like and admire both of them throughout the book. They knew Vincent was a genius, even if the rest of the world didn't. So though the book ends with Vincent's suicide, there is a happy ending. He lived in utter poverty, selling only one painting in his lifetime, but today his work is more valuable than any other artist's. All the intensity of soul he poured into it shone through. And that's a lesson for aspiring artists of every type, paralleled even by the author's success story. This book was rejected 17 times before finally being published and becoming a national best seller.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Alan

    I loved this book because of all the things I got to learn about this artist. For example, I didn't know Van Gogh had worked as a preacher in a mining town and gave away absolutely everything to the starving families around him before he became a (unsuccessful during his lifetime) painter. I also recommend The Agony and the Ecstasy by the same author about Michelangelo for the same reason--learning about these amazing artists and what they endured to have artwork that connects so many from such I loved this book because of all the things I got to learn about this artist. For example, I didn't know Van Gogh had worked as a preacher in a mining town and gave away absolutely everything to the starving families around him before he became a (unsuccessful during his lifetime) painter. I also recommend The Agony and the Ecstasy by the same author about Michelangelo for the same reason--learning about these amazing artists and what they endured to have artwork that connects so many from such diverse backgrounds even today.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dish Wanderer

    ‘No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.’- Doctor Gachet (pg.412) This sentence spoken by Doctor Gachet best sum up the brilliant genius that was Vincent Van Gogh. What an amazing painter and individual, driven by the ‘lust for life’, his passion for art, just takes your breath away! What a lonely man, driven by a need for love and comfort but finding none save in his beloved brother Theo and his paintings. This is a poignant, wonderful, inspiring and yet heart breaking story of V ‘No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness.’- Doctor Gachet (pg.412) This sentence spoken by Doctor Gachet best sum up the brilliant genius that was Vincent Van Gogh. What an amazing painter and individual, driven by the ‘lust for life’, his passion for art, just takes your breath away! What a lonely man, driven by a need for love and comfort but finding none save in his beloved brother Theo and his paintings. This is a poignant, wonderful, inspiring and yet heart breaking story of Vincent Van Gogh. I have always been intrigued by his story and since I love Impressionistic paintings, I always wanted to read the story of his life, finally after much postponing, I am so glad and thankful to myself and my best friend who lent it to me that I finally read it. As a rule, I do not read biographies, I prefer fiction, I find inspiration and love in the imagination of the writer rather than in the life of the artist. However, for Van Gogh, my rule had to be broken, his story just simply has to be read and enjoyed and cried over. Anyone, who loves the arts, be it writing, painting, poetry etc. simply must read this book. Anyone who has struggled to write or paint or has considered himself/ herself to be ‘different’ in society and has struggled to live by one’s own principles and has faced hurdles to achieve one’s dreams must read this book. It is awe – inspiring and uplifting in such a beautiful way, that it cannot be captured in language. Quite simply put, Vincent’s life leaps from the books’ pages just like his beautiful sunflowers or his cornfields burst with passion and the joie de vivre of life itself. My favorite painter has always been Claude Monet; I love Impressionism as a movement, simply because it celebrates colour. I love colours too; colours simply define life for us. What would life be without a little (or a lot of) colour? Imagine our life in just grey (mind you I love these three colours as well) or just plain black and white? Is it not terrifying to think thus? Now that I have read about Van Gogh’s love for colour and how he wanted to just capture the brilliance of the blue sky and the red of the sun or the lemon – yellow of the sunset, I must say that I am bowled by him and he is now my favourite along with Monet! I realize I am digressing as this review is about the book and not the painter- Van Gogh and therein lies the conundrum for me as a reviewer. This is an excellent story a five star or in fact a ten star story or as many stars story as there are stars in his ‘Starry Night’ but then again the book is not that, it is perhaps a three star book but in honour of the memory of Van Gogh and because I want people to know more about his life, I have given it four stars. Let me elucidate for you the problems that I had with this book. 1) The writing was bad. What I mean to say is that it simply lacked depth. It certainly was not passionate like Vincent was, it failed to make Vincent in to a three dimensional character that every book should make its character. The writing is dispassionate and clinical, which was a let down, it did not make me want to turn the pages and read it at a stretch. The only thing that kept me going was my wanting to know what would happen to Vincent next. 2) Some incidents could have been highlighted and given a certain depth of feeling and thought which it lacked. For example, when Vincent dies, perhaps Theo’s grief and heart break could have explained in a better manner. 3) I also feel that what the book lacked was psychological depth. I also do feel that the writer could have done a better job of explaining to us or getting in to not only Vincent’s mind but also other characters, like Theo’s for example. The beautiful, sublime relationship that the brothers shared can be gleaned from the story but not from the writing. It is always unfair to compare but perhaps if the book had be written in the form of ‘stream of consciousness’ style then it would have read better. Ian Mc Ewan for example, brilliantly captures the heart and mind of all the characters in ‘Atonement’. 4) There was a generous, liberal use of French in the novel, which is understandable as Vincent knew and spoke in French and also lived in France, however, not everyone in the world knows French and I don’t think it was necessary to use so much of the language clearly when it was not needed. It just felt like it was put on there without any reason. Don’t take me wrong, I love the language but the fact is when the novelist imposes on its non – French readers a language which is not universal; it does not make it for much of happy reading, I had to scramble to find translations or rely on friends, which impeded my reading even further. A glossary of the translations would have been extremely useful. I did skim through a few reviews of the book before starting out, and I remember I read one review where the reviewer had commented upon the writing and how it was a wonderful story but suffered from bad writing, I agree with the reviewer a full hundred per cent. The novel reads like ‘this happened and then that happened’; I mean that the writing is that simplistic! Surely a complicated, amazing man deserved a better form of writing! 5) I had a problem with a certain chapter titled ‘Maya’ which comes under the section ‘Arles’. I thought it was highly unnecessary and quite strange. I understand that Stone wanted us to understand that Van Gogh was hallucinating but surely Stone could have managed something better than Vincent imagining a woman in white and then proceed to have sex with her? That was just so cheesy and stereotypical and also did not fit in well with the narrative or the story. I did not understand how it fit in anywhere with how Vincent was as a painter or a man. Surely the need for love was great in Vincent especially because he was so misunderstood but surely bringing a woman who claims to love him passionately only to make her an illusion seemed to be a little too cruel for me! Stone admits in the ‘Note’ at the end that this chapter is purely fictitious and imagined by Stone and not by Van Gogh. 6) ‘Madness’ which is of course more metaphorical and less literal when it comes to Vincent’s life is not tackled well. The picture one gets upon reading the novel is that all artists are ‘mad’, clinically ‘mad’. I do understand that Vincent did suffer from a serious physical condition, but the writer should have brought out the metaphor of ‘madness’. How anyone different in society and who harbours a different set of beliefs is perceived as ‘mad’. Stone does touch upon this, but not much, which again was a let down. Having said all that, I must say that the fact that Stone decided to research and work on Vincent’s story is in itself quite exemplary and a marvelous artistic achievement in itself. What is also quite brilliant about the book is the fact that Stone is completely unjudgemental and simply relates the story of Vincent which I think is also quite a contradiction to what I said earlier, maybe because he is deliberately so dispassionate in his writing as he realizes he is writing about a real person and not a fictitious character and yes capturing the essence of someone like Vincent must be more than an uphill task. Writing fiction is by no way easy but then writing someone’s biography of someone so loved and celebrated all over the world must be difficult as well and I must congratulate Stone on that account. If nothing else, at least the story of a genius so misunderstood and unloved in his lifetime can finally be loved and read by millions around the world, thanks to this book. Vincent is embodied for me in this poem of Wordsworth – ‘My Heart Leaps up When I Behold’ My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began. So is it now I am a man, So be it when I shall grow old Or let me die! The child is father of the man And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety. Thank you for all the passion and love of colour and the ability to live on your dreams and to live only for your dreams. Thank you! My heart leaps up Vincent when I behold your ‘Starry Night’

  25. 5 out of 5

    Indrė

    Like reading a biography that is wrapped in a form of a novel. Can't really tell how much of this was fiction, but it's kind of mindblowing to me, to know that the author actually talked to people who knew Vincent in person. My god that man suffered. He chose to. Pain was his art, he knew no other way. He was laughed at, mocked, being called "Le Fou Roux" - the red fool, being rejected by women he loved, he was an embarrassment to his family. His teachers and fellow painters didn't look at him s Like reading a biography that is wrapped in a form of a novel. Can't really tell how much of this was fiction, but it's kind of mindblowing to me, to know that the author actually talked to people who knew Vincent in person. My god that man suffered. He chose to. Pain was his art, he knew no other way. He was laughed at, mocked, being called "Le Fou Roux" - the red fool, being rejected by women he loved, he was an embarrassment to his family. His teachers and fellow painters didn't look at him seriously - his lines were never straight, he didn't study human anatomy, his colours were chaotic and his style was very childish. But it was his own. It was his passion. His lust for life. Loved reading about his, now also famous, painter friends in Paris. Their rivaly and heartfell friendship. His chaotic relationship with Paul Gauguin is something I kind of want to learn more in the future. His brother Theo was a saint. The bond and conection they share is something every sibling should have. Always suporting, always loving and always there. A hard but important book for all art (Van Gogh) lovers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fidan Selim-Zade

    The book's name - Lust for Life - perfectly describes the biography of well-known painter Vincent Van Gogh. You live the utter dedication and passion, sore quest, denial, devastation, solitude and camaraderie, elaboration of talent, strong will to address the silent misery and internal beauty, anowal, brother's love.. The life and art to be remembered, the souls of two brothers so pure, that the ending of their paths cannot leave anyone indifferent. My heart is now with Theo Van Gogh and his phe The book's name - Lust for Life - perfectly describes the biography of well-known painter Vincent Van Gogh. You live the utter dedication and passion, sore quest, denial, devastation, solitude and camaraderie, elaboration of talent, strong will to address the silent misery and internal beauty, anowal, brother's love.. The life and art to be remembered, the souls of two brothers so pure, that the ending of their paths cannot leave anyone indifferent. My heart is now with Theo Van Gogh and his phenomenal devotion to the brother who's name he made history.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    This was a surprisingly good book, as I was leery of a novelistic approach to a biography. Sure there are some leaps and liberties taken, but for the most part it seems authentic. The beginning is rather tedious with Van Gogh’s unreciprocated love for Ursula. This is strained and not particularly interesting. It has little to do with Van Gogh’s creation of art. After this episode the story picks up pace and is fast moving. The author does not dwell long on any particular topic. The chapters are This was a surprisingly good book, as I was leery of a novelistic approach to a biography. Sure there are some leaps and liberties taken, but for the most part it seems authentic. The beginning is rather tedious with Van Gogh’s unreciprocated love for Ursula. This is strained and not particularly interesting. It has little to do with Van Gogh’s creation of art. After this episode the story picks up pace and is fast moving. The author does not dwell long on any particular topic. The chapters are short and the story progresses. Van Gogh’s sojourn with the coal miners in Belgium was very moving. When he arrives in Paris the story is energized by the painters he encounters – Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Seurat. Through-out all this the love of Van Gogh parents for him never wavers – they disapprove of his lifestyle but are always supportive. His brother Theo financially supports him to the end, besides providing an emotional cornerstone and friendship. The story is depressing, as it should be. Van Gogh was a maladjusted individual. He could not relate well to people – particularly women. In a sense he was almost child-like in his relationships. It is also good to follow the chronological progress of his paintings while reading the book. There is an explosion of colours after his arrival in Paris. One of his last paintings ‘Wheat Field with Crows’ is very symbolic and moving as the black crows fly off at nightfall in several different directions. One quote from the book: A whore by Toulouse-Lautrec is moral because he brings out the beauty that lies beneath her external appearance; a pure country girl by Bouguereau is immoral because she is sentimentalized and so cloyingly sweet that just to look at her is enough to make you vomit.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Moriah

    Irving Stone wrote this fictional biography of Vincent Van Gogh, one of the greatest impressionist painters of all time, using the fragments of his life. with an immense instructive potential, Stone gives us 8 parts devided by places Vincent tried to build a life in, and ends it with his tragic death. Although I was interested in reading this book, when I got right down to it I kind of expected it to be dry or tedious. It was not! I flew through it. This was one of the most beautiful books I've e Irving Stone wrote this fictional biography of Vincent Van Gogh, one of the greatest impressionist painters of all time, using the fragments of his life. with an immense instructive potential, Stone gives us 8 parts devided by places Vincent tried to build a life in, and ends it with his tragic death. Although I was interested in reading this book, when I got right down to it I kind of expected it to be dry or tedious. It was not! I flew through it. This was one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. Van Gogh never caught a break during his lifetime, and had no luck with women. The hardships faced by Van Gough in his life can be very depressing to read at times, but this piece of litereture not only gave my an idea of the tortured life of Van Gogh, but also taught me the terminology of art and made me appreciate his work much more. What I found very interesting was following the artists in Paris and see how they spent their time, see their oddities and personalities in their "natural environment." I was particularly touched by Vincent's special relationship with his brother, Theo. It is at the core of the story and it's so beautiful. Theo's financial and emotional support allowed Vincent to devote himself entirely to his painting, and in the end also made him a famous artist all over the world. Vincent himself never achieved this greatness during the course of his life, and maybe even never would have if it weren't for his brother and sister-in-law. The end broke my heart and made me burst into tears. But that's no shocker, I'm a softie. Stone’s novel, while probably not completely accurate, is a beautiful introduction to this great artist’s life and work.

  29. 5 out of 5

    owilkumowa

    Mr Irving Stone, you deserve a punch in the face for destroying my passion for The Starry Night. I find biographical novels... questionable. Having the picture heavily distorted by author's vivid imagination is what has kept me back from the genre. For Vincent, I took a chance, as with a story so moving, I was certain there was little that could have gone wrong. Ahem. Titular passion was nowhere to be found. Clunky dialogue and oversimplified style made me think that Lust for Life should actually Mr Irving Stone, you deserve a punch in the face for destroying my passion for The Starry Night. I find biographical novels... questionable. Having the picture heavily distorted by author's vivid imagination is what has kept me back from the genre. For Vincent, I took a chance, as with a story so moving, I was certain there was little that could have gone wrong. Ahem. Titular passion was nowhere to be found. Clunky dialogue and oversimplified style made me think that Lust for Life should actually be shelved as a primary school reading... Women to whom Vincent took a shine were devoid of any stimulating characteristics. Flat and thus irksome characters. The bond with Vincent's brother portrayed unnaturally. Finally, NO REAL EMOTION BEHIND THE PROCESS OF CREATION. Caps lock intended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Harsha

    I am short of words to express how i feel after reading this. This was an intense, passionate, gripping tale of a man who created a path breaking work in the world of painting, despite the deteriorating conditions of his flesh and mind . I felt as if I had gained some priceless asset after completing it. It's been quite a time that i felt completely absorbed in a book. It came to me at the right time and it made a profound impact on the way i see life

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