Thursday, December 18, 2008

Banner Year for Van Gogh Books

The Van Gogh Museum has just released their 2009 publications programme (download it at their website), and I might as well write them a big check right now for the things I plan to buy. It's going to be a banner year in van Gogh studies!

The "big one," the publication that has the potential to reshape our understanding of Vincent (oh! how my pulse races!), is the Five Volume, Completely Annotated, Fully Illustrated, In-Process-Since-1994 new edition of van Gogh's complete correspondence. 2500 pages! 2000 illustrations! It is set to be released in October 2009 (about the time of my own book, I love it), in conjunction with a special exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum showcasing actual letter manuscripts, and in English, Dutch, and French editions. All editions include the original text of all the letters in brand new translations, annotated commentary on each letter, and illustrations of all works of art discussed in the letters. The English edition is being released through Thames and Hudson, which I hope means it will be easily available via Amazon stateside. According to the VGM's publication programme, the cost is 300 Euros until January 2010, at which point price goes up to 350 Euros (price in US dollars not given). The volumes will also be available digitally through a special website.

What makes this publication exciting is that the letters will be included and translated as Vincent wrote them: no euphemisms (so his sometimes salty language will stay in), no amendments, and no excised passages. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger's original collection of the letters, quite understandably, left out some passages that might be sensitive to the family or that she felt might be otherwise inappropriate. What could those be?! (Ten bucks says I will be shouting "Gah! I want that in my novel! And it's too late!" many times while perusing the five volumes.)

As if that weren't enough to get me giddy, two more 2009 publications from the VGM will definitely make it to my bookshelf:
*Louis van Tilborgh and Ella Hendriks, Vincent van Gogh Paintings, 2: Antwerp and Paris, 1885-1888: the next volume of catalogues of the VGM's permanent collection. 500 pages, listed at 99 Euros. The recent volumes of the drawings catalogues have been available via Amazon, so this one may be too. Otherwise it can be purchased through the VGM website in autumn 2009.

*The latest volume in the slim-but-packed-with-good-research Van Gogh in Focus series, entitled "Van Gogh and Montmartre." These, unfortunately, are only available at the VGM or through its website. I have three of the five earlier titles, and they're terrific.

Happy Reading in 2009!

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