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I was a bit suspicious of a biography of Van Gogh's life that would only cover seven and a half hours of normally read text, wondering if anything truly in depth could be accomplished in such a relatively short book--and I was right to wonder. The folksy, often poetic language is interesting and gives a peculiar and often pleasing flavor to the text, but much is glossed over--and while Meier-Graefe gets all the big milestones right (his relationship with Theo, the ear, the shooting, and all the junior high school student already knows), he just gets some things wrong. Anyone who could speak of Vincent's late adolescence as "sailing along" or "happy at home with his parents" must never have encountered any facts about the uptight critical father who thought his son a mad fool, the harping mother whose constant refrain rang "why can't you be more like Theo?!" or the crazily intense antics of a young man who just about drove everyone around him nuts with his endless fiery neediness and often with careless thoughtlessness. I expected more here and would recommend a more in-depth biography of the great artist.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
There's a conscious effort to make this more of a dramatic narrative than a biography, but that's probably not a bad way to go considering most of what we know of Van Gogh is drawn from letters between him and his brother Theo. I won't say it's 100% accurate, but the very nature of the book allows you to crawl inside the man's head. Even if you don't agree or even sympathize with him, it's the kind of perspective that allows one to better appreciate the mind behind the artwork.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful