10 July 2008

The Agony and the Ecstasy -- Irving Stone

This book was fantastic. It took me a while to read, but it was well worth it. I started looking up how to sculpt marble while reading it, that is how well it was written. It portrays the artist with such authority and such a breadth of knowledge that it feels as if you are right there beside him. Michelangelo's life is more than amazing, it verges on the unbelievable. If the works of art and the historical record did not exist, I would not believe such a fantastic tale about one man's life.

The style of the book is novelized biography. This was a new area for me, as I have only read biographies that were meant to be as such. Traditionally, they verge somewhat on the dry fact based novels that they are. Relaying important information and attempting to analyze the life being portrayed. Irving Stone accomplished this in the form of a novel. I had to constantly remind myself that what I was reading actually happened, that this was in fact a biography. Obviously, Stone had to take quite a few liberties with the story and fill in a lot of gaps. However, his ability to tie together the history with such a great story was truly a work of art in itself. I highly recommend this book as the definitive manner in which to enter the life of Michelangelo. His life was filled not only with great work, but also with great intrigue and fantastic stories. It does not disappoint anyone looking for a novel nor looking for a biography. It really does fill both needs simultaneously and thus look no further for either one.

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