Lust for Life is Irving Stone's biographical novel about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Largely based on the letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, the novel details the artist's difficult life, as well as describing the origins of many of his famous paintings, such as The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, and others.
©1961 Irving Stone (P)2012 Random House Audio
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Irving Stone wrote this book in 1934 and became the master of the biographical novel. I had read a number of his books back in the 50's and 60's and wanted to read them all but did not have the time. I do hope that Audible will provide all of his outstanding books. A number of Stone's books were made into movies. " Lust for Life" is the story of Vincent Van Gogh, the facts are correct but stone's brings him to life and in doing so has to take creative license therefore it is a novel. I remember after reading this book in 1962 I went to the museum to look at Van Gogh paintings. I am glad I read this book again as I had remember very little of it. Stone describes the colors of the area and what Vincent is painting so it helps me see the world though Van Gogh's eyes or the eyes of a painter.
Van Gogh probably had a bipolar disorder and did has greatest painting when in the manic phase. Some of his medical complaints may also be caused by his over consumption of Absinthe as it contains a toxin and to lead poisoning which was common among painters of that era. The toxin in Absinthe causes one to see yellow and halo around lights. The story covers in detail his early life to his death. You will enjoy this book.
This book creates a wonderful backdrop for appreciating the work of Vincent Van Gogh, providing an understanding of his development as an artist, as well as giving insight into the popular perceptions of him as a quintessential starving artist and cutter of his own ear. The story was developed using Vincent's own words from his letters to brother Theo, which certainly lends credibility to the thoughts that Stone puts in Vincent's head, as well as to conversations between Vincent and the other Impressionists of the age.
However, I think this may be one of those books best read rather than listened to...
It's not the narration; Mr. West does a fine, measured job, especially attributing a sweet earnestness to Vincent, and I probably would never have gotten around to the written version before my travels to Amsterdam (where his museum lives) and Provence (where he did much of his painting).
But Stone put so much effort into his descriptions of the places, people, clothing, food, the period in general, that it was often difficult to visualize them at the same pace they were being read - or maybe it's that I felt they deserved to be re-read and dwelt upon. It's strange that in the end, I felt that the hours of narration passed both too slowly because of the detail, and too quickly because I couldn't absorb all the detail!
While I'm happy to have listened to this version of the book, I plan to find a real paper copy that I can search through for certain descriptions of paintings and settings, to bookmark and compare to the paintings that are now as beloved by the world as they seemed to have been by Vincent himself. (P.S. The Van Gogh Museum is worth a visit, especially when they keep it open late on Friday nights! The most fascinating part is where they compare the current colors in the paintings to what was originally put on canvas - many of the blues used to be purples...)
As for the performance, it was good although I did not really like the way West read the female lines.
I listened to the book in preparation for my trip to Amsterdam. I had once started to read a Van Gogh biography but quit because it was rather boring. However, this book I really enjoyed. Base on the book, Van Gogh never lived in Amsterdam; however, the Van Gogh museum is there.
I never read the print version but thoroughly enjoyed the audio edition.
Don't recall hearing Steve West before but will certainly consider him when making future selections.
Until Death Do I Paint
Steve West was able to deftly convey the complexity of a life fraught with bouts of mental illness and disappointments. I was intrigued by Van Gogh's life, relationships and the hardships he endured in pursuit of his passion for art. Appreciated learning about his Impressionist peers and how they influenced Van Gogh's work.
I read "Agony and the Ecstasy" and loved it: more thorough, detailed, accesible and revealing of Michaelangelo's character, work and times. This, comparatively, is less so and thus a bit disappointing.
Steve West is one of your 2 or 3 best narrators. I wish he did more "literary" books.
This book was informative and was the standard for many years. However, the new book, "Van Gogh, The Life" is far better, far more comprehensive and was written by much better authors. Van Gogh, The Life is not yet available on audio, but it's worth the wait.
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