Possibly one of the best-ever bio 'fiction' accounts I've ever read. Stone succeeds in recreating Michelangelo's world with such realistic passion thaPossibly one of the best-ever bio 'fiction' accounts I've ever read. Stone succeeds in recreating Michelangelo's world with such realistic passion that the reader is captivated, believing that, indeed, such a time and place just may have been amazing enough to produce a genius of this caliber. In the end, my overall feeling (and I was an art student in a NYC art school at the time, so i had a special interest) is that undoubtedly art and genius ARE all about 'agony' and 'ecstasy' but also that, fundamentally, Michelangelo's own particular brand of genius was ahead of his time while also a reflection of it and that in this vein, perhaps, his own agony and ecstasy resulted from this dichotomy....more
Although this is a fictionalized account of Van Gogh's life, it also counts as the artist's bio, of sorts.
I first read this book years ago in art schoAlthough this is a fictionalized account of Van Gogh's life, it also counts as the artist's bio, of sorts.
I first read this book years ago in art school, trying to get my hands on every material i could on my favorite painters, Van Gogh prominent on that list. Then I re read it a few years ago when i found an old copy at a bookstore sale, and was amazed at how quickly and easily the writing pulled me in. As in 'The Agony and The Ecstasy' (on Michaaelangelo), here Irving Stone truly pulls out all the stops to being the 'other time' of a genius' life to light, and he mostly succeeds. What you feel is that you 'see' life through Van Gogh's mad and wonderful eye, and that such seeing is indeed a 'lust' for life, a passion unrivaled.
I think that it is impossible to look at any Van Gogh painting in the same way after reading this book....more
1978 Booker Prize. My least favorite Murdoch novel--and even the ones I've most enjoyed, have annoyed me in some form. I think it's her voice that ann1978 Booker Prize. My least favorite Murdoch novel--and even the ones I've most enjoyed, have annoyed me in some form. I think it's her voice that annoys me because, at heart, even with her immense talents she could never hide herself in her literary voice and by this point (I've read most of her novels) I've come to the conclusion that Iris Murdoch must have been a really annoying woman indeed.
As (nearly) always with Murdoch, this work is about obsession, compulsion, perfectionism, petty rivalries and jealousies, and the darkness of the soul (as considered by Murdoch's strange psychology, that is), all through the sheen of even stranger mysticism. And, as (nearly) always with Murdoch novels, the entire action takes place in the over-intellectualized upper-middle-class social world of writers, thinkers, artists, musicians and, of course, professors. No other people seem to exist for Murdoch.
Here, protagonist Charles Arrowby is a playwright of some renown staying at a seaside house. During his stay,he meets an old teen love again and--for reasons I never fully understood--develops a strange obsession with her and with his feelings for her, even though she's now an apparently not-so-special old woman. As may be predicted, his obsession evolves into compulsion, wherein his behavior crosses the line into what I'd term Ruth Rendell territory--only Rendell's characters are always a heck of a lot more interesting, and their sickness a whole lot more believable. Part of the problem--as always--is that by the end of the novel one gets the feeling that most of the character's obsessions lay so heavily in his head that it reads like an intellectual--not psychological or emotional--exercise. Instead of one feeling amazement, shock, horror, revulsion or even pity, one is left with impatience and the desire to shout, Give it a break already! ...more