Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) was famously driven by his passion for God, for art – and for books. Vincent’s life with books is examined here chapter by chapter, from his early adulthood, when he considered becoming a pastor, to his decision to be a painter, to the end of his life. He moved from Holland to Paris to Provence; at each moment, ideas he encountered in books defined and guided his thoughts and his life. Vincent’s letters to his brother refer to at least 200 authors. Books and readers – whether dreaming or deeply absorbed – are frequent subjects of his paintings.
Vincent not only read fiction, he also knew many works of art from detailed descriptions and illustrations in monographs, biographies and museum guides. Always keeping up to date, he never missed the latest literary and artistic magazines. This thought-provoking and original study takes the reader on an artistic-literary journey through Vincent’s discoveries, his favourite authors and best-loved books, revealing a continuous dialogue between his own work, the artists and the authors who inspired him, and giving life to his comment: ‘Books and reality and art are the same kind of thing for me.’