van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 30 letters relate to Theo - mistress...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(8 February 1883)
... I had better tear up this letter as well. I understand perfectly that you are quite absorbed by the condition of the woman; that is one of the things which are necessary for her rescue, and also for her recovery. For one must throw oneself headlong into it, and the English saying is true: “If you want it well done, you must do it yourself, you mustn't leave it to others.” That means that one must keep in hand the care in general and the management of the whole. We had a few real spring days, for instance last Monday, which I enjoyed very much. The cycle of the seasons is a thing which is strongly felt by the people. For instance, in a neighbourhood like the Geest and in those courts of almshouses or “homes of charity,” the winter is always a difficult, anxious and oppressive time, and spring is a deliverance. If one pays attention, one sees that such a first spring day is a kind of Gospel message. And it is pathetic to see so many grey,...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(11 February 1883)
... becomes good - at least, energetic. Yes, I often think of what you wrote me recently. I think there must be a great difference between the woman you met and the one I have already lived with for a full year, but what they have in common is their misfortune and their sex. Don't you also think that if one meets someone in such a way - I mean, so weak and defenseless - something makes one surrender completely, so that one cannot imagine ever being able to desert such a person? Generally speaking, such an encounter is an apparition. Have you read Erckmann-Chatrian's Madame Thérèse? It has a description of a woman who is recovering - very touching and beautiful; it is a simple book, but at the same time, deep. If you don't know Madame Thérèse, do read it. I think she will like it too, and be touched by it. At times I regret that the woman with whom I live understands neither books nor art. But (though she definitely can't) doesn't my still...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 15 February 1883)
... was very welcome, it helps me a great deal. I begin by telling you that it takes a load off my mind to know that the past of the woman whom you write about is quite different from what I first supposed. Namely that she has known other things beside poverty and narrow-mindedness, so that I suppose she can fully appreciate you with regard to culture and broad-mindedness too, more than a woman who has been crushed by misery from childhood on and knows no better. From what you say about her reading, for instance, I see she has a sentiment which many other women completely lack. Social standing and her experience contribute to the formation of her character, and, I think, make her entirely suitable for you. Certainly you will be doubly, doubly happy when she recovers. And I wish from the bottom of my heart that she might become your wife, for a woman turns life into something so very different. And what is a woman like her without a man to appreciate and understand her? Something...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 20-24 February 1883)
... but this house hasn't anything like that. I am very eager for your letter and news of your patient. I hope that she is in good spirits and that the recovery is normal and rapid. But sometimes things don't go so smoothly and rapidly, there is almost always some complication or other - at least, one must always be watchful. Last week I again read Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, which I had already read, more than ten years ago. Do you know what I found in it, at least, thought I found in it, so that I don't doubt Victor Hugo meant such a thing? I found Thijs Maris in Quasimodo. Probably most people who read Notre Dame have the impression that Quasimodo was a kind of fool. But, like myself, you would not find Quasimodo ridiculous, and, like myself, you would feel the truth of what Hugo says, “Pour ceux qui savent que Quasimodo a existé, maintenant `Notre Dame' est vide. Car non seulement il en était l'habitant mais il en était l'âme.” [“For...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(25 or 26 February 1883)
... me so because I couldn't get it right. I mentioned the good news about your patient, but her wanting to go back to her own country doesn't seem quite right to me; but as you say, little can be said about the future before she has recovered. May spring do her good! Well, boy, I am writing in a hurry, as I still have a great deal of cleaning up to do; I am so very happy about that improvement in the windows. As far as I can tell, it is quite effective. You will remember from your visit last summer that the light was too crude, and couldn't be changed. From this little sketch you will probably see how it can be varied infinitely, and that the effects one sees in little houses can be reproduced here. And the special advantage is that in the small houses one can't get the right distance for drawing the figures, and in the studio, one can. Adieu, with a firm handshake, Yours sincerely, Vincent I think tonight I shall probably dream of fellows in sou'westers...

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