“My Own Portrait in Writing”

9781771990455: Paperback
Release Date: 15th May 2015

full-colour throughout, 26 colour letter-sketches

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 200

Series Cultural Dialectics

Athabasca University Press

“My Own Portrait in Writing”

Self-Fashioning in the Letters of Vincent van Gogh

An inspiring book that argues for Van Gogh’s letters to be placed alongside the literary work of Blake and Eliot.
Paperback / £25.99

A reading of Van Gogh’s collected correspondence by way of aset of ideas about dialogue and self-fashioning derived especially fromMikhail Bakhtin. Patrick Grant’s central claim is that VanGogh’s letters raise from within themselves questions and issuesto which they also respond dialogically, thereby thematizing theprocess of self-fashioning within their own discourse. The manner inwhich they do so is a marker of the specifically literary dimension ofVan Gogh’s writing. Complementing Grant’s earlier criticalanalysis, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh: A Critical Study(AU Press, 2014), this study brings Van Gogh’s collectedcorrespondence fully into the domain of modern literary studies, bothcritical and theoretical—as is long overdue.

List of Illustrations



Introduction: The Dialogical Structure of Self-Fashioning

1 The Painterly Writer

2  Binaries, Contradictions, and “Arguments on BothSides”

3  Reading Van Gogh’s Letter-Sketches

4 Imagination and the Limits of Self-Fashioning

Conclusion: Envoi


Notes; Index

Patrick Grant, professor emeritus of English at theUniversity of Victoria, is well known for his studies on literature andreligion. In addition to The Letters of Vincent van Gogh: ACritical Study, he is the author of Imperfection, a studyof the human aspiration to self-knowledge.

I’d also like to see if I can’t make my own portrait inwriting. First I start by saying that to my mind the same personsupplies material for very diverse portraits.

Vincent van Gogh, Arles, 1888

This is an exciting and inspiring book: it is both intellectuallyambitious and humanly challenging. Ideally, in my view, it couldstimulate an effort to work towards a revised and reinvigoratedcurriculum with Van Gogh's letters being read alongside some of thewriters the great artist most admired.

Garry Watson, author of Opening Doors: Thought From (And Of) the Outside