Saturday, April 29, 2006

Vincent Van Gogh who lusted for life

Title: Lust For Life
Author: Irving Stone
Pages: 423
Publishers: Arrow Books
1st edition: 1935
17th edition: 2001

Lust For Life is a biographical novel which deals with the life of the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh, his trials, tribulations and paintings. Author Irving Stone has written this after extensive research and has referred innumberable letters of Vincent Van Gogh. I knew that Van Gogh was a great artist but never knew anything else about him. I felt wretched throughout the book and never wanted to continue further, but I kept myself pushing till the end.

Van Gogh sold only one painting during his brief lifetime and all along he battled violently with the thought that he is a wastrel, being an artist, whose paintings are crude, ugly and unsaleable. No matter how he screwed up his own life, his younger brother Theo, stood by him as a rock, supporting him throughout his barbarious stint with painting.

My rational mind kept on cursing Vincent Van Gogh for all the blunders he was creating for himself which were completely unnecessary and stupid. Only when Vincent saw his brother crumble did he lose hope and end his life. I still can't stomach the fact that a person can go through such disasters and personal upheavals in life which are self-made.

Vincent's stay in Paris with his brother was the only time I enjoyed the read. He was very mercurial in nature when it came to sticking to one particular place. He would long to go to some place after hearing good things about it; he enjoyed the stay there for a brief while and after sometime would screw up things and make them so ugly that he was forced to get out of there. He had a knack to f*** up things. The cruel irony about him is that he was a failed man who was self-destructive and became a great artist only after his death.

Well, here are some of the quotes which I liked in the book.

You can never be sure about anything for all time. You can only have the courage and strength to do what you think is right. It may turn out to be wrong, but you will atleast have done it, and that is important thing - page 42

Many a times in your life you may think you are failing, but ultimately you will express yourself and that expression will justify your life - page 43

Perhaps God knows, and then again he doesn't - page 83

He who loves lives, he who lives works, and he who works has bread - page 137

Human conduct is a great deal like drawing. The whole perspective changes with the shifted position of the eye, and depends not on the subject, but on the man who is looking - page 197

It is the plight of most people that by a kind of fatality they have to seek a long time for light - page 234

Religion will never get people anywhere. Only the base in spirit will accept misery in this world for the promise of bliss in the next - page 297

The public cannot understand that there is no room for moral judgements in art. Art is amoral; so is life - page 299

The ordinary human brain thinks in terms of duality; light and shade, sweet and sour, good and evil. That duality does not exist in nature. There is neither good nor evil in the world, but only being and doing - page 299

There is pleasure, sure, in being mad, which none but madman knows - page 392

Aristotle said, 'no excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness! - page 412