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La valse des arbres et du ciel

Jean-Michel Guenassia

We don’t have to be in favour of the title - Colleen McCullough-like - that doesn’t reveal anything about the content, unless it is under the form of an enigma. Because this book is less interested in nature than it is in the destiny of one of its great interpreters, Van Gogh. At his time some people had already questioned the theory of the suicide. It is not easy to shoot into one’s left side, using your left hand. The novel develops this thesis: Van Gogh had nothing in common with a “person ‘suicided’ by society”, he wanted to live, he was in good shape and had the high fever of creativity. So how did he die then? He was the victim of a passionate, his relationship with the daughter of Dr. Gachet, who loved him dearly. But things turned badly. There was an altercation, followed by threats, a weapon badly pointed, the shot went off … That credible version allows the author to describe the artist’s last days when in the hot summer in Auvers-sur-Oise, in July 1890, he rowed a boat, visited the Ravoux inn, wandered in the countryside and produced a painting per day. One person is not very nice as described by the author, Dr. Gachet. He is described as a family tyrant, stingy and embittered, so very different and even to the opposite of the placid rural doctor painted by Van Gogh. So who is right, the author or the painter?

La valse des arbres et du ciel, by Jean-Michel Guenassia, Albin Michel, 2016, 304 p., €19.50.

La valse des arbres et du ciel - Jean-Michel Guenassia

Review published in the newsletter #444 - from 13 October 2016 to 19 October 2016

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