Vincent van Gogh: A Biographical Study

Vincent van Gogh: A Biographical Study

Vincent van Gogh: A Biographical Study

Vincent van Gogh: A Biographical Study

Excerpt

This is the story of a man who lived from the year 1853 to the year 1890. The events of his life, his actions and his words are not imaginary but real. His name was Vincent van Gogh, and he was what you call an artist, a description that may mean anything. In this case it means a drama, a queer eventful history full of strange happenings. The action here related came to an end only a generation ago, although it seems as remote as the legend of St. George and the Dragon. The charm of our story, like that of any other, depends upon its presentation. The motives of our hero must appear, why he acted as he did, and the manner in which he expressed himself and his ideas. In the present case the story is not the work of any alien hand, but was in the main left by our hero himself. He acted the drama, wrote down most of it, and himself through the medium of a transparent symbolism pointed the moral. The text of the play, his letters to his friends, and especially those to his brother, have been published long ago both in the original and in an English translation. Their author, needless to say, never desired either to enact or to write this drama; in fact he longed only to live a quiet life, enduring not too much sorrow and enjoying some measure of happiness. He failed of his intentions as signally as he succeeded with his play.

The function of the present author has been confined to purging the play of superfluities and to filling out the gaps. The lines of the letters and what is written between them are the threads of the story, the rest has been gathered from the symbols already mentioned, which are the works of the painter. No attempt has been made to make a critical analysis of the pictures, which enter upon the scene only in so far as they concern the drama directly or indirectly. It is an open question whether the correct title . . .

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