Debbie Lazar's Reviews > The Agony and the Ecstasy

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
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Oct 18, 07

bookshelves: booksihaveenjoyed
Recommended for: people who enjoy historical novels

Goodreads crashed on me - I didn't realize the five stars were posted but not my review. You may be wondering why I rated this book so highly.

The book made Michelangelo and his times really come alive for me. I feel like I personally know, like and respect Michelangelo as a person. He was so recognizably human with family issues, rivalries, loyal friends, treacherous friends and, above all this fierce driving passion for his art, especially sculpture. He was born with a gift and a genius that he acted on. He was passionate, cranky, demanding, willful, opinionated, determined, driven, and unwilling to accept anything short of perfection. Yet he did what he needed to do to pay the bills - sometimes setting his pet projects aside for years. For the first time in my life I am interested in visiting the Sistine Chapel to see his painstakingly and brilliantly executed ceiling frescoe and to view his famous marble sculpture of David (with the broken arm).

Plus on occasion I'm a sucker for epic historical novels. Michelangelo lived from 1475 - 1565 which was a fascinating period of history - Christopher Columbus gets mentioned in passing (some guy who recently set sail in three tiny ships westbound to find India), Raphael and so many other famous names from the Renaissance. Michelangelo had no use for Leonardo da Vinci whom he considered to be a society-seeking dandy and snob. I think most of this information is probably true as the book was extremely well researched with lots of primary sources, such as Michelangelo's 400+ letters.

The book also gets inside his head as an artist as he designs and executes all of his work, especially his most beloved marble sculptures. I had no idea there are so many grades of marble and never thought about how arduous it was to extract the right marble out of the Roman hills. Or to move the finished sculptures to their designated locations.

The dense writing and length (760 pages) made it a slog for me to get through - but an exciting slog and I find myself thinking a lot about it. That's why I gave it five stars.
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message 1: by Maythee (new)

Maythee Debbie - Your review makes me curious to check out the book - can I borrow it? I always enjoy bios ... and as Lizzy will tell you I looooove David :-)


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