Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Devils

I mentioned back on his birthday in December, that I had planned to read a biography of Edvard Munch. I expressed the hope that after I read it, that he would still be a hero of mine. This is because of my past experience of thinking a person to be a hero, then reading their biography, and being very disappointed with what I find. Luckily for him, and for me that did not happen with Munch. I did find out that he was absolutely bonkers, and he was a drunken brawler for large portions of his life, but overall I still admire him. Well, I admire the younger Munch. It seems odd to realize that Edvard Munch, the man who painted "The Scream" died alone in his bed at the age of 80. The fact he died alone, and died alone in bed is not the surprising part, it is the fact that he was 80. After about 1904, Munch laid off the sauce, after taking the cure at a Danish "clinic" and became famous, and extremely wealthy. It just does not seem right to read about how in the early 1910's Munch was worth about 7.2 million quid. I, for my own sake, need Munch to be the young Munch, the drunken, bat shit crazy Munch. The under-appreciated Munch struggling to keep body and soul together as the world ignores his art. The old man Munch who paints portraits of his patrons is one that I find a bit appalling. He didn't sell out per se, and he did truly, at times, starve for his art, but it just seems that, like Van Gogh, Munch should have died early. I doubt that he would agree with my assessment, and after his "cure" he did still paint some wonderful pictures. It just seems that a tragic Munch is one that I would prefer.

I finished the biography of him about two days ago, and just before I finished I began looking for the next book I am going to read. Amongst those books lying unread on my shelves was a book by Dostoevsky entitled "The Devils." I must confess that this tome has lain unread on my shelf for quite a length of time, but I pulled it down the other day just to browse the introduction, and try to convince myself to read it next. I knew that Munch, like myself, is/was a huge fan of Dostoevsky, but I was truly shocked to read that as he lay there dying alone in his room, the last book that Munch was reading (or in his case rereading because the book meant so much to him) was, you guessed it, "The Devils." Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, I was a bit freaked out by such a coincidence, and am now (as soon as I finish this post) about to sit down, and crack open "The Devils" and read it start to finish. After all, who am I to argue with fate, Munch, and Dostoevsky?

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