Vincent Van Gogh, the great reader.

[…] Like me, for instance, who can count so many years in my life when I completely lost all inclination to laugh, leaving aside whether or not this was my own fault, I for one need above all just to have a good laugh. I found that in Guy de Maupassant and there are others here, Rabelais among the old writers, Henri Rochefort among today’s, where one can find that — Voltaire in Candide.
On the contrary, if one wants truth, life as it is, De Goncourt, for example, in Germinie Lacerteux, La fille Elisa, Zola in La joie de vivre and L’assommoir and so many other masterpieces paint life as we feel it ourselves and thus satisfy that need which we have, that people tell us the truth.
The work of the French naturalists Zola, Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant, De Goncourt, Richepin, Daudet, Huysmans is magnificent and one can scarcely be said to belong to one’s time if one isn’t familiar with them. Maupassant’s masterpiece is Bel-ami; I hope to be able to get it for you.

Letter: 574 (576, W1): To Willemien van Gogh. Paris, late October 1887.

Painting: Piles of French novels, Vincent van Gogh,October 1887 – November 1887


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