van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 61 letters relate to health - mental...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Reverend Salles to Theo van Gogh
(31 December 1888)
... I am going to give you news of your brother. I have just seen him, and found him calm, in a state which does not show anything abnormal with him. Unfortunately, as a result of the insane act which required his admission to the hospital and the more than strange behaviour that he showed in that establishment, the doctors found it necessary to isolate him and place him in an isolated room which they can keep locked. It is their opinion that he must be transferred to a lunatic asylum and they have made a report to this effect to the Mayor. This report will cause an inquiry and the result will be sent to the Prefect, who will probably order your brother's transfer to Marseilles or Aix. I wanted to warn you of what is going on with respect to your brother, something of which he himself seems to fully understand. I repeat, I found him talking calmly and not raving any more than anyone else. He is amazed, even indignant (which could be sufficient to start another attack) that they keep...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(17 January 1889)
... I hope, as I get back my strength. Rey told me that being very impressionable was enough to account for the attack that I had, and that I was really only anaemic, but that I really must feed myself up. But I took the liberty of saying to M. Rey that if the first thing for me was to get back my strength, and if by pure chance or misunderstanding it had just happened that I had had to keep a strict fast for a week - whether he had seen many madman in similar circumstances fairly quiet and able to work; if not, would he then be good enough to remember occasionally that for the moment I am not yet mad. Now considering that all the house was upset by this occurrence, and all the linen and my clothes soiled, is there anything improper or extravagant or exorbitant in these payments? If I paid what was owing to people almost as poor as myself as soon as I got back, did I do wrong, or could I have been more economical? Now today on the seventeenth I at last received 50...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to A. H. Koning
(22 or 23 January 1889)
... the way from the North of our native country. I received your postcard in the hospital at Arles, where I had been quartered following an attack of something the matter with my brains, or otherwise fever, which had nearly passed off already. And as for the causes and consequences of said illness, I think I shall be wise to leave the solving of these problems to the casual discussions of the Dutch catechists, that is to say whether I am mad or not, or whether I have been mad, and am still mad, in some imagination of a purely sculptural nature. And if not, whether I was already mad before that time; or whether I am so at present, or shall be so in the hereafter. After having thus given you ample information with regard to the state of my mind and body…I suppose you will think it less miraculous that I did not answer you earlier. Meanwhile we must not forget to stick to the point. And starting from there I ask you what you are doing in the art of painting,...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Paul Gauguin
(22 or 23 January 1889)
... just proves that he understands us. I shall send you your things, but I still have bouts of weakness at times during which I'm in no position to even lift a finger to return your things to you. In a few days' time I'll pluck up the courage. And as for the `fencing masks and gloves' (make as little use as possible of less infantile engines of war), these terrible engines of war will just have to wait until then. I am writing to you very calmly, but packing up what's left is still beyond me. In my mental or nervous fever, or madness - I am not too sure how to put it or what to call it - my thoughts sailed over many seas. ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(28 January 1889)
... my work are not progressing so badly. It astonishes me already when I compare my condition today with what it was a month ago. Before that I knew well enough that one could fracture one's legs and arms and recover afterward, but I did not know that you could fracture the brain in your head and recover from that too. I still have a sort of “what is the good of getting better?” feeling about me, even in the astonishment aroused in me by my getting well, which I hadn't dared hope for. During your visit I think you must have noticed the two size 30 canvases of sunflowers in Gauguin's room. I have just put the finishing touches to copies , absolutely identical replicas of them. I think I have already told you that besides these I have a canvas of “La Berceuse” the very one I was working on when my illness interrupted me . I now have two versions of this one too. I have just said to Gauguin about this picture that when he and...

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