David's Reviews > The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
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's review
May 18, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, audiobooks
Read from April 28 to May 18, 2012

Sprawling, but never boring epic of Michelangelo's life covers the period from his early adolescence in Florence, where he began drawing and painting, through his death in Rome. Stone's novel is very well researched and cited. He perfectly captures the contemporary feel of living in 15th/16th century Italy with its Papal struggles, civil wars, struggle to accept the ideas that Michelangelo brought forth in his art. The description of Michelangelo at work -whether the painful task of the Sistine Chapel, or the many sculptures (which were his true love), is very eloquent. The novel describes the success that Michelangelo has in spite of the things that work against him: his own struggle with Vatican authority, his inability to show tough love to his stubborn, lazy family (who feel that they're nobility and above working, but still expect Michelangelo to send home money to pay the bills, and eventually to buy nicer things), and finally the enemies he makes along the way because of his superior talent.

As a fellow artist (though of a different medium), I appreciate the clear way this book shows just how hard he worked, and how dedicated he was. Non-artists sometimes view artists as people who never labor, and just have fun. The creative process is never easy, and someone with a gift like the protagonist is driven to do nothing else.
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Quotes David Liked

Irving Stone
“Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.”
Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy


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