van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 9 letters relate to psychology - insomnia...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 15-17 June 1883)
... money somewhat sooner if possible. I shall again sleep little tonight because of the drawing; but it is very cozy smoking a pipe in the night, when everything is quiet; and daybreak and sunrise are wonderful. Well, boy, send the money soon if you can. Good luck. Adieu. Yours sincerely, Vincent ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 11 July 1883)
... last year is quite on the cards. Last year, when I had recovered but couldn't sleep and was feverish myself, I too had moments when I felt like forcing myself to do some work, and I did do a few things, but thank God not too absurdly large, which later I couldn't believe I had done. That's why I believe B. will be all right again, but I do find this stuff ridiculous. A watercolour study of some small birch trees in the dunes, which was much better and had nothing abnormal about it, lay crumpled in a corner. But his large things are no good. At Van der Weele's I saw another very ugly one by him, as well as a very good head, but a portrait of Van der Weele he had started was another bad one. Thus he is hard at it making a fine old mess and on a very large scale. I do at times like the work of Hoffmann and Edgar Poe (the Fantastic Tales, Raven, etc.) but I find Breitner's stuff objectionable because the imagination behind it is clumsy and meaningless and has ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(late September 1884)
... when I am almost paralyzed. I cannot eat, and I cannot sleep - that is to say, not enough, and that makes one weak. But I shall get over it again, especially as I have fairly good news from Utrecht. But I am still very anxious because I am afraid it will be a long time before she has entirely recovered. Perhaps it will be a long time before I get over it too. I always regret, Theo, that I am standing on one side of a certain barricade, you on the other, which barricade is not actually visible any more as a structure of paving stones, but which certainly does exist socially, and will continue to do so. In that lithograph by Daumier or Lemud, whichever it may be, the principal subject is a person whose story I remember. There were two brothers, and they were standing on the same side, and both were killed one after the other, for the same cause. That might have occurred in our case, but now I am almost sure it will...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(9 January 1889)
... because I eat and digest well. What is to be feared most is insomnia, and the doctor has not spoken about it to me, nor have I spoken of it to him either. But I am fighting it myself. I fight this insomnia by a very, very strong dose of camphor in my pillow and mattress, and if ever you can't sleep, I recommend this to you. I was very much afraid of sleeping alone in the house, and I have been afraid I should not be able to sleep. But that is quite over and I dare to think that it will not reappear. My suffering from this in the hospital was frightful and yet through it all, even when I was so far gone that it was more than a swoon, I can tell you as a curiosity that I kept on thinking about Degas. Gauguin and I had been talking about Degas before, and I had pointed out to Gauguin that Degas had said … “I am saving myself up for the Arlésiennes.” Now you know how subtle Degas is, so when you get back to Paris, just tell Degas...

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