This is Irving Stone's powerful and passionate biographical novel of Michelangelo. His time: the turbulent Renaissance, the years of poisoning princes, warring popes, the all-powerful Medici family, the fanatic monk Savonarola. His loves: the frail and lovely daughter of Lorenzo de Medici; the ardent mistress of Marco Aldovrandi; and his last love - his greatest love - the beautiful, unhappy Vittoria Colonna. His genius: a God-driven fury from which he wrested the greatest art the world has ever known. Michelangelo Buonarotti, creator of David, painter of the Sistine ceiling, architect of the dome of St Peter's, lives once more in Irving Stone's marvellous book.
©1987 Irving Stone (P)2012 Random House
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I read this book in 1961 and told myself this is a book I have to read again some day. Irving Stone is the master of the biographical novel and his writing is excellent. His wife Jean was the primary researcher for all his books, they worked as a team. This is the story of Michelangelo Buonarotti starting as a young boy through his first apprenticeship and the move to the "garden"to apprentice in sculpture and patronage of Lorenzo de Medici. This is an in-depth story of his life and the history and polictics of the time. From the fanatic monk Savonarola who burned and destroy much of the art and literature of Florence to the wars and the politics of the church. I wonder what more beautiful thing Michelangelo could have produce if the various Pope's would have let him finish one project before forcing him to another. One good thing is one Pope forced his to paint and another to be an architect when all he wanted to do was sculpt. I did not remember that he build a road up a steep mountain including digging tunnels, designing wagon's to carry the marble off the steep mtn. so I guess one could say he was also an engineer. I enjoyed the meeting's between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Arthur Morey did a good job narrating the book with all the Italian names.
This has it all. A fabulous topic, perhaps one of the greatest artists of all time, a fabulous period piece, the Italian Renaissance, and a marvelous story, brilliantly drafted by Stone, that is as captivating as it is informative. I first read this book 40 years ago as a teenager backbacking through Europe, and when I finished it five days later, by which I was in Venice, I had to return to Rome to see pieces I'd read about but not seen when I was there. Planning to return to Italy again, I re-listened to the book, which reignited my interest in the Renaissance and Italian Art and improved the whole experience of touring this marvelous country.
Historical Fiction has the marvelous ability to weave a compelling story out of cloth that is the history of the era, putting names, places and players into context such that you really feel you have a grasp of the history.
I read this years ago when in college, and listening to it was like revisiting a very good friend that I had not seen in years. Sometimes such occasions can be awkward or disappointing. Certainly there have been times that I have tried to listen to a book that I enjoyed in my youth, only to end up scratching my head. But not this time...The detail is phenomenal (Irving Stone writes as if he actually lived in the 15th century). The writing is superb. The narration is outstanding. Most importantly, it’s a story about one of the greatest artists that ever lived, and how he was compelled by an inner drive to create some of the greatest art ever produced. So skip the mediocre movie by the same name and listen to the book.
This is one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure to read.
Of course, my favorite character is Michaelangelo.
Sorry, but most anyone could have read this better. This guy simply drones.
This book takes many, many sittings!
I read this book over thirty years ago and loved it. I enjoy listening to books while I run, and I decided to choose this one. Because the story is so powerful, it did not disappoint me, but it is a shame that the narrator is not any better.
I happen to have a large book about Michelangelo that contains detailed photos of almost all of his work. It was so helpful to keep it nearby so that I could refer to it as I read/listened to this book. I also had a hard copy of the book, which also helped me understand it. That is the best way to read a book, particularly one about an artist from a foreign country.
In those days in Florence, Italy, it was thought that if you had to use your hands to make a living, you were somehow a failure. Consequently, he was the only person in his family who earned any money, and he had to support all of them, not only his parents, siblings and their families, but his aunt and uncle also. in fact, until he declared his emancipation from his father, somewhere around the age of 27, his father was entitled to all his earnings. it made life hard for him. Most of his work was commissioned by the pope, which was also difficult because the pope could be fickle and withdraw support at any time. Or a pope may die, and the next pope may order all of his work to be destroyed. But he was compelled by something inside of him to create the things that he did.
To say Michelangelo was gifted, a genius, is almost an understatement. He was driven to do what he did. Each and every detail had to be perfect or he could not live with himself. Although I have never seen any of his works in real life, the pictures that I have seen of them and the descriptions I have read about them have made me feel as if I know them. To be able to catch a glimpse of what he must have been thinking and feeling at the time of the creation of his art work was truly delightful. Here is a trivia fact I did not know: Michelangelo lived to be nearly 90 years old, and was still sculpting right up until his death.
And it is a compelling story, well told, if not always historically verifiable, by Irving Stone.
I really liked the narration of Arthur Morey. He did a great job of the Italian pronunciations, and characterizations from old to young.
Read this book decades ago. Probably saw the movie but reading the book now on my smartphone was a different experience. It is the story of Michaelangelo's life. I am not a knowledgeable art lover but each time the story talked about things I could just "look it up" on my phone, see the pictures, understand what the story was talking about. Ok, there were some necessary negatives--lots of names of people I found impossible to keep track of. Long, detailed descriptions of his working BUT once I realized I could go see what they were talking about what had been less interesting parts became MORE interesting parts. Even the question of his sexuality became interesting--read/listen to his life, make your own decisions. And for the history lover a fascinating time. Can you imagine Da Vinci and Michaelangelo being competitors in a contest? Fortunately De Vinci decided to drop out and Michaelangelo "won" the block of marble which became the David. So if you want a rather lengthy listen that isn't full of fast-moving events, and you have interest in biographies, history or Italian Renaissance art, this may be the perfect book for you.
One of the best, I'm and artist and I've listened to The Agony and The Ecstasy for years on books on tape, but tapes wore out so I ordered the audio book and am very pleased with it.
How much I identify with Michelangelo, the only difference between us is that he was a genius and a great artist, I'm not a genius and I'm only a good artist, also the historical significance.
Feeling and emotion
After Michelangelo finished the Pieta' and his friends helped him place it, he later came back and put his name on it. The most moving part of the book to me was when he rode away. He had completed one of the greatest pieces of art ever conceived and there was no one there. He and his few friends were the only ones who knew what he had accomplished. I cry every time I get to this part in this wonderful story. I have a tear in my eye right now.
This book made me feel like going to Florence and Rome again despite the fact that I have been to both places several times.
The narrative is amusing, it made me remember Michelangelo's story more easily than any other. It is perhaps not 100% historically accurate, there is some fiction involved. But the important facts are there and when I finished the book, I had the feeling that I somehow know that era much better.
I love listening to books while driving, even short drives. I can learn, or be transported. I have become a calmer driver through books.
Learning about the history of Michelangelo, and his brilliant works. Also, the history of the different parts, that now as a whole, make todays Italy. It really made the difference in my appreciation for the art, as well as having some understanding of the surroundings in the various areas in Italy. I many times could hardly believe that Michelangelo was in the same Duomo I was in during my 2013 trip.
My other half said it was a must read before our trip, and I'm so glad he did. He was right!
There are so many, I could never limit it to one. Just his whole life was amazing, and how he evolved as an artist. How he was driven from within to be a sculptor, he was possessed by who he knew he was before he even touched his first piece of marble. Yet later in life he appreciated all he had to go through and learn to be a great sculptor. It's an amazing timeless story for any interest in the artists of Italy. Listening to this book got me through it much faster.
He was great at giving each character a personality recognizable by his various voices, subtle differences, yet very easily differentiated. He also helps in understanding how to pronounce signs and words, that you often come across while visiting Italy. I loved listening to his story telling.
Michelangelo was the star, he was a brilliant artist, and lived at a time surrounded by other brilliant artists. Thank God for his tenacity. He left us so much to admire, love, and appreciate. From listening to The Agony and the Ecstacy before my trip to Italy, my trip was alive from past to present. There were times I could actually feel Michelangelo's energy. It was an awesome trip!
Do yourself a favor, if you have any interest in Italy and art? Listen to Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstacy.
I thought this was a very good view and perspective in to the man, the politics and the Catholic church. Eye opening and a great read.
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