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The Agony and the Ecstasy
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June 2017: Other Books > The Agony and the Ecstasy / Irving Stone - 4****

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Book Concierge (TessaBookConcierge) | 2632 comments The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
The Agony and the Ecstasy – Irving Stone
Audiobook read by Arthur Morey.

Stone’s epic historical novel tells the life story of Michelangelo. Stone did extensive research, living in Italy for several years, and using many of Michelangelo’s letters and documents found in various archives. He really brings the artist (and his works) to life. While most of us are familiar with his Pieta and David sculptures, and the Sistine Chapel paintings / frescoes, Michelangelo was also an accomplished poet and architect. Stone brings all these elements into the novelized biography.

Additionally, the novel includes much of the politics of the times, from the Medicis in Florence to the various Popes in Rome, it’s a fascinating history of the era.

This man was a giant among giants, whose influence on art and architecture is almost without measure. His life requires an epic story. That being said, the novel is incredibly long in order to cover all of Michelangelo’s eighty-eight years, and his life’s opus. I found his efforts to study anatomy in an era when dissection was absolutely forbidden fascinating, but grew tired of the repetitive references to his search for “peasant models” or insistence on the male nude form.

I may have noticed the repetition more because this was a second reading. I first read the novel sometime in the mid- to late-1960s; I’m fairly certain I read it before the movie, starring Charleton Heston, was released, but maybe it was shortly after that. My rating reflects my recalled reaction at that time.

I do wish there was an “illustrated” edition of the novel, to show some of his works alongside those chapters describing their creation. But I suppose that what Google is for!

Arthur Morey does a fine job narrating the audio version. At 34 hours in length, it’s a significant commitment, but worth it (and you don’t have to carry that huge tome around).

LINK to my review

Booknblues | 1675 comments I read several of Stone's novels in the '70s and remember liking all of them including this one. I have no idea how I would rate them if I reread them.

I think I am happy with my memory of them.

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