What is the theme of the novel Lust for Life by Irving Stone?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Employing a quote from Irving Stone's Lust for Life, the theme of this bio-historical novel expresses this idea,

It is the plight of most people that by a kind of fatality they have to seek a long time for light.

Aristotle remarked, "No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness," and this reflection well can describe Vincent van Gogh.  From reading Stone's fictionalized biography, the reader gains insight into the artistic sensitivity, the loneliness, and the search for expression and the understanding of this expression that consumed van Gogh.  In van Gogh there was an excess of force and a violence of expression that frightened others. Yet, there is also a delicateness and extreme sensitivity in this same artist.  Sadly, only his brother Theo understood Vincent; even his erstwhile friend Paul Gauguin argued with him.  

In Lust for Life, art critic G. Alber Aurier's refelction on van Gogh is recorded,

This robust and true artist with an illumined soul, will he ever know the joys of being rehabilitated by the public?  I do not think so.  He is too simple, and at the same time too subtle, for our bourgeois spirit.  He will never be altogether understood except by his brother artists.

Truly, the message that the reader receives from reading Stone's intriguing work that is documented with Theo van Gogh's letters is that Vincent van Gogh was the quintessential artist, mind, soul, and body. 

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