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Distributed for Athabasca University Press

The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

A Critical Study

Vincent van Gogh’s letters are frequently admired for their exceptional literary quality, but there is no extended critique of this aspect of his writing. Addressing key constellations of metaphors and ideas, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh shows the remarkable imaginative coherence underlying the painter’s correspondence and charts van Gogh’s evolving conception of himself as an artist. 

Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgements

Introduction: Letters as Literature

Part I   Vincent Agonistes: Religion, Morality, Art

Religious Convictions, Moral Imperatives

The Artistic Life and Its Limits

Part II  Thinking in Images

            Birds’ Nests: Art and Nature, Exile and Return

            The Mistral: Creativity and Adversity

            Cab Horses: Despair and Optimism

Part III Exploring with Ideas

            By Heart: The Creative Unconscious

            A Handshake Till Your Fingers Hurt: Autonomy and Dependency

            Something New Without a Name: Beyond Religion, Morality, Art

Conclusion: “My Own Portrait in Writing”



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