“In its capaciousness, the book also reminds us of a fundamental truth about Van Gogh: his ambition as a painter depended on words to give it focus and direction. We see this most obviously in the correspondence with Theo. “Writing is actually an awful way to explain things to each other,” he says at one point – but the exasperation here is revealingly akin to the way his paint pushes against the limits of what can be rendered and recognised as the essence of a thing.”
I just learned from the Guardian UK about the new complete, annotated, illustrated edition of Vincent Van Gogh’s Letters, an event they assert that is “one of the major publishing achievements of our time.”
But luckily for many of us that can’t afford the book, there is a website that documents the complete letters as well.
And if you want some good visual background on the letters, most of which were written to his brother Theo, I recommend watching Robert Altman’s Vincent And Theo, featuring the incomparable Tim Roth as Van Gogh.