I Am a Stranger on the Earth Critical Context - Essay

Arnold Dobrin

Critical Context

Numerous other biographies of van Gogh exist; his letters to Theo were published as early as 1927 and have since been collected and published by other authors, including Irving Stone. Another book designed for a young audience, which is more like a pamphlet, is Album LV, Vincent van Gogh in the Metropolitan Museum of Art series Miniatures, distributed by the Book-of-the-Month Club of New York in 1952. The text that accompanies each reproduction is written by Margaretta M. Salinger and, like Dobrin’s book, contains many quotations from van Gogh’s letters to his brother, as well as portions of Theo’s letters. The main difference between this pamphlet and Dobrin’s book lies in the former’s emphasis on van Gogh’s avowed mis-sion to humanity: to project in paint the beauty and the joy of nature. Dobrin addresses this theme but puts more stress on the artist’s failure in his personal relations and on his development as a superb painter.

The story of van Gogh’s life is a tale that appeals to imaginative, altruistic young adults and that may at the same time inform them about the perils attending nonconformism. As portrayed in I Am a Stranger on the Earth, van Gogh is a heroic but tragic figure.