True to Temperament: Van Gogh and Naturalist Literature

  • Publish Date: 1992-03-27
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: Judy Sund
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Van Gogh's fascination with contemporary literature has never been studied as comprehensively as it is in this book, which includes an analysis of Van Gogh's reading habits. The author demonstrates that the Dutch painter considered modern French literature the epitome of cutting edge cultural production, and argues that the work and pronouncements of the writers he most admired - Zola, Maupassant, Daudet, and the Goncourt brothers - informed his notion of modernism by providing entree into the world of the Parisian avant-garde. The painter's production and his predilection for Naturalist prose are shown to be decisively linked and mutually reinforcing. Though Van Gogh believed reading was 'a matter of importance that greatly influenced one's work', he resolutely avoided the anecdotal and illustrational in his art. Nonetheless, his oeuvre is marked by his literary pursuits, and this book reveals the multiple and often subtle ways in which non-narrative imagery evokes beloved texts. It contributes to the investigation of artistic correspondance in the late nineteenth century, and explodes prevailing assumptions by exploring the allusive, 'Symbolist' dimensions of naturalist practice.