The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo Celebrating The Th Anniversary Of Michelangelo S David, New American Library Releases A Special Edition Of Irving Stone S Classic Biographical Novel In Which Both The Artist And The Man Are Brought To Life In Full A Masterpiece In Its Own Right, This Novel Offers A Compelling Portrait Of Michelangelo S Dangerous, Impassioned Loves, And The God Driven Fury From Which He Wrested The Greatest Art The World Has Ever Known

In 1923, Stone received his bachelor s degree from the University of California, Berkeley In the 1960s, Stone received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Southern California, where he had previously earned a Masters Degree from the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences.When at home, Stone relied upon the research facilities and expertise made available to him by Esther Euler

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  • Mass Market Paperback
  • 776 pages
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
  • Irving Stone
  • English
  • 07 January 2019
  • 9780451171351

10 thoughts on “The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

  1. says:

    4.5 stars out of 5 To some people stone was dead hard as stone, stone cold, they said To him, as he once again ran his fingers along its contours, it was the most alive substance in the world, rhythmic, responsive, tractable warm, resilient, colorful, vibrant He was in love with stone Michelangelo portrait by VolterraMichelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born in Florence on March 6th, 1475 It was a fortuitous time to be born He was coming of age just as the Renaissance was beginning to take full flight His family was an ancient family, as old as the famous Medici family, but they have fallen on hard times by the time Michelangelo s father became the patriarch There had never been artists in the family, so the desire, nay the need, to create that existed in the young Michelangelo did not come from tradition, but from a new flame within him He wanted to become a sculptor in an age when sculpting was nearly extinct He wanted a chisel in his hand, not a paintbrush He wanted white chips beneath his feet He wanted to be immortal After all, fire, water, and the passage of time destroyed paint, but stone lasted forever.Donatello died in 1466, but despite never meeting him or receiving the benefit of his teaching, the influence of Donatello was undeniable Much later, when Michelangelo got the chance to carve a statue that was supposed to represent Florence, he knew that it must be David I was mesmerized by David s hand when I took this picture in Florence back in 1992 You must see the statue in person to fully comprehend how amazing it is.That statue grew beyond representing Florence To many historians that statue symbolizes the whole Renaissance The title of this book The Agony and the Ecstasy makes me think of a daytime soap opera with overblown tragedy and illicit affairs driving the daily plot The life of Michelangelo certainly reflects the title There are so many twists and turns in the narrative of this artist s life There are so many critical moments where, if fate had intervened differently, the world might not have ever known the name Michelangelo.Everyone wanted him to paint because that was what was in fashion He could make a living painting No one was interested in buying new marble statues Buyers rich enough to afford sculptures were only interested in old Greek statues, freshly pulled from their earthy graves Michelangelo tried he really did try to do what everyone wanted him to do, but the only time he truly felt alive, truly felt he was fulfilling his mission in life, was when he was liberating a figure from stone The marble called to him, and once his hands were on the stone, he merely had to lean close enough to catch the whispers of who was in the stone He had the impression that, no matter how honestly a sculptor designed, it would come to nothing if it did not agree with the basic nature of the block In this sense a sculptor could never be completely master of his fate, as a painter could be Paint was fluid, it could bend around corners Marble was solidity itself The marble sculptor had to accept the rigorous discipline of a partnership The marble and he were one They spoke to each other And for him the feel of marble was the supreme sensation No gratification of any other sense, taste, sight, sound, smell, could approach it Irving Stone waited six years to begin writing this novel He arranged for Dr Charles Speroni, an Italian professor at the University of California, to translate all four hundred and ninety five surviving Michelangelo letters as well as the records and art contracts that he kept Stone wanted to be sure that the portrait he carved of Michelangelo by writing this book was based on as much hard data as he could find Irving also, to add authenticity, lived in Italy for several years as he was working on this novel so that he could see, taste, and feel the world that made Michelangelo Irving StoneSome would disagree with Stone s positive portrayal of Lorenzo de Medici, but any man who collects ten thousand books and manuscripts to form the largest library since Alexandria is going to receive veneration than cynicism from me He held Florence together for his entire life, without holding any office, as did his father and his grandfather He wasn t the last of the great de Medici s, but let s just say that there was a long drought after his death His successor, his oldest son, was known as Piero the Unfortunate if that gives you any indication of how well he followed the father known as The Magnificent Lorenzo, as he did for many artists of the era, took the young Michelangelo under his protection and allowed him the freedom to express himself in stone He recognized the passion in the young man Unlike many powerful people that Michelangelo was going to be forced to work with, Lorenzo understood that all that was required of him was to stay out of the young artist s way It was quite the contrast with one of the later popes that Michelangelo worked for Julius II insisted that he produce just about anything but stone sculptures He forced him to be a bronze caster, an architect, an engineer, and most famously a phewy , let me get the paint off my tongue, the painter of the Sistine Chapel Michelangelo was also a poet, not just a dabbler, but a really accomplished poet Were it mine, that shaggy fleece that stays,Woven and wrought into a vestment fair,Around her beauteous bosom in such bliss ALl through the day she d clasp me Would I wereThe shoes that bear her burden When the ways Were wet with rain, her feet I then would kiss Michelangelo liked women, but preferred males for sculpting I find all beauty and structural power in the male Take a man in any action, jumping, wrestling, throwing a spear, plowing, bend him into any position and the muscles, the distribution of weight and tension, have their symmetry For me, a woman to be beautiful or exciting must be absolutely still Perhaps you just haven t put them in the proper positions Michelangelo was not immune to the allures of women She makes my flesh crawl I mean the flesh inside my flesh He had affairs with women, lifelong affairs that, even when they hadn t seen each other in decades, their desire for each other still burned with a soft flame They were women impossible to be with crafty he was , either because of their station in life or in one case because she was the mistress of a powerful man He had no interest in marriage He would have made a poor husband after all He could love them, but he would always cheat on them with the white marble flesh of his craft Michelangelo was feeling a bit lustful when he created this version of the fable of Leda and the Swan.He was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael Da Vinci is held up as the prime example of a Renaissance man, certainly deserved, but until I read this book, I d forgotten just how much alike he and Michelangelo were in the breadth of their abilities These three talented men knew each other, but had little to do with each other Michelangelo was such a loner He was always so focused on his current project and usually pining for other projects already bubbling in his mind By the time Mich after spending this much time with him I feel I can take a few liberties with a nickname died, he had 80 years worth of projects designed and ready to be made Man Passes Only works of art are immortal You will feel like you know Michelangelo by the time you finish this book Irving Stone casts his spells and puts flesh on the bones of a long dead artist and made me feel like I was walking the streets of Bologna, Florence, and Rome, with my hand on the shoulder of a genius So much so that at one point I blew my nose and found only marble dust in the tissue I ll put my hand in fire if it s not true I was most impressed with Michelangelo s work ethic and perseverance His ideas consumed him, but even when he had to leave his true calling because of the whims of powerful men, whatever task they asked him to do, he did it to the very best of his abilities Even unpleasant tasks he felt had to be done right They had to be done with artistry and genius If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  2. says:

    Oh good lord No wonder I m reading this book so slowly I have to keep putting it down and fanning myself Here s the young Michelangelo carving marble for the first time He had removed the outer shell Now he dug into the mass, entered in the biblical sense Really He s fucking the marble Apparently, yes In this act of creation there was needed the thrust, the penetration, the beating and pulsating upward to a mighty climax, the total possession It was not merely an act of love, it was the act of love the mating of his own inner patterns to the inherent forms of the marble an insemination in which he planted seed, created the living work of art Does anybody have a cigarette Two weeks later Finally finished Four stars as promised, it s full of agony, it s full of ecstasy It s very full of history Very enjoyable, and I learned a huge amount But the writing is just so overwrought that I removed a star.

  3. says:

    The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving StoneThe Agony and the Ecstasy 1961 is a biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti written by American author Irving Stone Stone lived in Italy for years visiting many of the locations in Rome and Florence, worked in marble quarries, and apprenticed himself to a marble sculptor A primary source for the novel is Michelangelo s correspondence, all 495 letters of which Stone had translated from Italian by Charles Speroni and published in 1962 as I, Michelangelo, Sculptor Stone also collaborated with Canadian sculptor Stanley Lewis, who researched Michelangelo s carving technique and tools The Italian government lauded Stone with several honorary awards for his cultural achievements highlighting Italian history 1978 1343 570 1344 1357 1361 567 1395 704 9789640018309 1475 1546 20 1372 1300 9643311961 1379 1393 656 9789642201389 1475 1505 1534 18 1564 1489 1492 1492 1493 1496 1497 1498 1499 1501 1504 1505 1515 1508 1512 1520 1534 1524 1526 1534 1541 1547 .

  4. says:

    Goodreads crashed on me I didn t realize the five stars were posted but not my review You may be wondering why I rated this book so highly The book made Michelangelo and his times really come alive for me I feel like I personally know, like and respect Michelangelo as a person He was so recognizably human with family issues, rivalries, loyal friends, treacherous friends and, above all this fierce driving passion for his art, especially sculpture He was born with a gift and a genius that he acted on He was passionate, cranky, demanding, willful, opinionated, determined, driven, and unwilling to accept anything short of perfection Yet he did what he needed to do to pay the bills sometimes setting his pet projects aside for years For the first time in my life I am interested in visiting the Sistine Chapel to see his painstakingly and brilliantly executed ceiling frescoe and to view his famous marble sculpture of David with the broken arm Plus on occasion I m a sucker for epic historical novels Michelangelo lived from 1475 1565 which was a fascinating period of history Christopher Columbus gets mentioned in passing some guy who recently set sail in three tiny ships westbound to find India , Raphael and so many other famous names from the Renaissance Michelangelo had no use for Leonardo da Vinci whom he considered to be a society seeking dandy and snob I think most of this information is probably true as the book was extremely well researched with lots of primary sources, such as Michelangelo s 400 letters.The book also gets inside his head as an artist as he designs and executes all of his work, especially his most beloved marble sculptures I had no idea there are so many grades of marble and never thought about how arduous it was to extract the right marble out of the Roman hills Or to move the finished sculptures to their designated locations.The dense writing and length 760 pages made it a slog for me to get through but an exciting slog and I find myself thinking a lot about it That s why I gave it five stars.

  5. says:

    776 , , , Michelangelo Buonarroti 1475 1564 , Irving Stone Piet , , Cappella Sistina, , , , Irving Stone , , , , , , , 495 Michelangelo, Ghirlandaio fresco , , , , , , Lorenzo dei Medici , , , Marsilio Ficino, Christoforo Landino, Angelo Poliziano, Picco della Mirandola, , , Girolamo Savonarola , , Lorenzo dei Medici Bertoldo di Giovanni, Donatello , Michelangelo, , , , , , , Santo Spirito, , Bichiellini Irving Stone , Michelangelo , Pietro Aretino La carne terra, e qui l ossa mia, privede lor begli occhi, e del leggiadro aspettofan fede a quel ch i fu grazia nel letto,che abbracciava, e n che l anima vive , , Michelangelo , Cecchino dei Bracci , , Doni Tondo , Sagrestia Nuova , Cappella Sistina Ignudi , Michelangelo , , , , , , Piet Rondanini , Leonardo da Vinci , , Palazzo Vecchio Raphael , Vittoria Colonna, Michelangelo Buonarroti , , Michaelangelus Bonarotus Florent inus Faciebat 25 200%.

  6. says:

    Even with Art History 101 under my belt, I was shocked to learn of his monumental contributions to sculpture, paint, architecture and even politics But I was even inspired by the incredible challenges he overcame throughout all of his 90 years of life Nothing came easy What an inspiration Here is a quote from his death bed Life has been good God did not create me to abandon me I have loved marble, yes, and paint too I have loved architecture, and poetry too I have loved my family and my friends I have loved God, the forms of the earth and the heavens, and people too I have loved life to the full, and now I love death as its natural termination Il Magnifico would be happy for me, the forces of destruction never overcame creativity It took me 13 months to read this book, and I will miss it him PS If you are going to read it, make a chart with four columns Family, Medici, Friends, Enemies There are many people with long Italian names, and they all remain relevant throughout his life

  7. says:

    I discovered this Irving Stone title in high school many many years ago, but I had not read the book again since then so it was fresh, new, and incredibly stunning for me We meet Michelangelo when he is thirteen, and follow him through his almost tortured life until he dies at age 88 In between we see him become an Artist like no other before or since We learn Art History, Italian History, Vatican History, and meet an incredible number of Popes, all of whom keep Michelangelo on a short leash I can only imagine what he could have created if he had been allowed to concentrate on the marble the way he so intensely desired to do.But every Pope, from Julius II to Pius IV, expected Michelangelo to create specific projects just for them For example, he never wanted to paint the Sistine Chapel, he was ordered to do that job, with the promise that when he was done he could return to his sculpture He could easily have given less than 100% of himself to the work, but Michelangelo was a true artist Plus he also knew that He was a victim of his own integrity, which forced him to do his best, even when he would have preferred to do nothing at all. So he created a treasure for the ages And did so every time he was forced away from his one true passion working the marble.My reading of the book this time was enriched by keeping my laptop nearby and referring to it frequently I researched artists whose work influenced Michelangelo such as Donatello, whose bronze David left our young artist speechless when he first saw it I would stop reading many times just to examine the pictures of Michelangelo s works Stone has frequent passages describing the thought process as Michelangelo developed his ideas for each piece, then the physical act of creation, where man and stone seemed to merge Although I have to admit that the author s descriptions of the actual sculpting did seem a bit over the top I can understand the creation metaphors, but Stone s intensely sexual language in these sections felt than a little creepy But the point is that to go from the printed page to a computer image of the piece was amazing, and helped me appreciate the details of the artwork, Michelangelo s genius, and even my computer better than ever.Here is a link to see a full sized 1910 replica of David placed in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where the original statue stood until 1873 when it was moved inside the Galleria dell Accademia, Florence, where it remains today It wasn t until I saw this picture that I truly realized just how gigantic the David is Look at the people next to it They look so tiny And just think, Michelangelo was not a big burly man, the kind I have always imagined a sculptor to be He wasn t even a tall, thin man like Charlton Heston, who played the role in the movie of this book Michelangelo was only five feet four inches tall, and when working obsessively the only way he knew how he weighed less than 100 pounds of pure muscle and will power by the time he was finished And yet, he was a true giant of his era and for all time.

  8. says:

    Irving Stone s The Agony and the Ecstasy was a magnificent literary biographical novel of the renowned and beloved artist Michelangelo It beautifully details the complexity, not only of the man, but a lifetime of his works, including the many and famous sculptures from Carrara marble, paintings, frescos and architecture, not only in Florence, but in Bologna and Rome Michelangelo s large body of work included his iconic sculptures of David and the Pieta Although he preferred other forms of artistic expression over painting, some of his most famous frescos include the beautiful ceiling in the Sistine Chapel as well as The Last Judgment on the altar wall At the age of 74, Michelangelo became the architect of St Peter s Basilica that occupied the remainder of his life He worked on models of the dome he envisioned over the nave of St Peter s so it could be completed after his death I loved this book and I m looking forward to another trip to Italy to once again enjoy these timeless artistic works of Michelangelo, but this time with a much greater understanding, appreciation and awe of the artist White marble was the heart of the universe, the purest substance created by God not merely a symbol of God but a portrait, God s way of manifesting himself Only a divine hand could create such noble beauty He felt himself a part of the white purity before him, felt its integrity as though it were his own Art for me is a torment, grievous when it goes bad, ecstatic when it goes well but always it possesses me When I have finished with a day of work I am a husk Everything that was inside of me is now inside the marble or fresco That is why I have nothing to give elsewhere Every work of art is a self portrait They have tremendous emotional impact it s as though I must project myself into their unfinished forms, complete them by my own thinking and feeling he was content He had come into the autumn of his life a man has his seasons, even as had the earth Was the harvesting of autumn less important than the seeding of spring Each without the other was meaningless St Peter s He entered the church through its front portal, walked in the strong Roman sunshine down the wide nave, stood below the center of the dome, just over the tomb of St Peter He felt his soul leave his body, rise upward into the dome, becoming part of it part of space, of time, of heaven and of God

  9. says:

    I took delight in the legend, I cherished just as much the reality A remarkable, wonderful and true story telling about Agony and Ecstasy And, to the same extent, I liked the constant striving to split up from the existence of this demiurge the exact detail from the legend itself.And yet, however impressive is in its proportions the list of titles of books dedicated to the life and creation work of the great Florentine artist, despite researches and although numerous papers have been brought out to light in the nearly five centuries that separate us from his death, we cannot help looking with astonishment at the personality of the one who is gloriously identified with the era of passion and of striving to the truth, which is the Renaissance.The legend perhaps took birth on that day of September 19, 1510, when Pope Julius II commanded to take down the scaffolding from the Sistine Chapel To the frightful eyes of those present it was revealed a real struggle of the man and the universe His creation, the unravelling of the elements from the primordial chaos, the first encounter of shadow and light, the first gesture of man, worn and pained, a whole tragic epopee this is what brought Michelangelo from the biblical legend and the gift of his time Not only the bodies of men were tailored down to new canons, healthy and powerful bodies, dominating in a glorious strain the whole scene of Genesis The inner dimensions of this new god the man, the creator of the world, were of greatness that surpassed that of ancient or biblical divinities.A supreme homage to the human personality, the fresco on the Sistine vault was a moment full of significance in the history of the Renaissance It elevates a passionate hymn of pure, magnificent human beauty The artist was confused, even by his contemporaries, with his work, thus becoming a mythical hero His creation is overwhelming, so the rather short and frail man began to resemble his characters, and crossed the time being represented in the posterity consciousness with a healthy and high athlete, with large shoulders, resembling his Moses and David, and not as Nicodim the short and with crooked nose, the self portrait of Pieta from Florence This is undoubtedly a side aspect the legend of Michelangelo encompassed not only life, but also part of his work.Irving Stone sought to restore the truth in the most eloquent circumstances of a life of agony and ecstasy Agony in the original sense of the word, that is of battle, that Milton once used to portray another titan, Samson Agonistes As for the sources of Michelangelo s creation, interpretations of its meanings, the writer sometimes inclines which, after all, is normal within the genre chosen by Stone to spectacular solutions It is tempting, for example, to speak for such a tumultuous, passionate personality about the breaking of any bridge between his creation work and the older traditions And, since most of the artist s work famous researchers have contributed to the prolongation of the legend, to the preservation of this myth of Michelangelo s existence, or even to some imprecision in the appreciation of his work, it is equally understood that an author of romantic biographies, such is Irving Stone, could not afford to give up the charming pages that such an occasion could have provided him with.The ideal of the artist approaches that of Donatello, rejecting the picturesque and gentle in the art of his first master Ghirlandaio It has Giovanni Bertoldo as master of the art of sculpture, who was Donatello s apprentice Along with the modest Bertoldo, his 15th century masters will be the sculptors of the Greek and Roman antiquities, whose works will have the opportunity to contemplate them in the gardens of Lorenzo de Medici From this happy meeting, led by the scholars gathered around Magnifico, the first works of Michelangelo appeared.Angelo Poliziano, the Florentine humanist, urged him to carve a Fight of the Centaurs , a subject detached from the friezes of the ancient Greek temples There was the meeting of the young artist with Plato s ideas, a meeting where, in the footsteps of famous celebrities of Michelangelo, Irving Stone was referring The remark is old, it was made by Vasari and Condivi, sculptor s contemporary biographers.At Michelangelo, tragic comes from the very condition of man, wrapped in a hostile destiny, while his thirst is heading for liberation from the chains in which he is locked by stronger powers than himself The theme of human suffering as a pained whirlwind crossed the entire work of the Titan The dying slave is a symbol of this Renaissance period illustrated by Michelangelo The resignation of the saint Sebastian, pierced by the arrows, is otherwise interpreted in the sculpture of 1512 Even though he is not trying to free himself from the chains, a tragic impulse is revealed in the attitude of the one who is destined to death.Michelangelo has not lived, like Rafael, the serenity of his creation For him, the ultimate act of releasing the idea from the cover of the stone, the bold flight of thought, often means suffering and sadness His artistic ideal planted in direct participation in the people s aspirations of his time, was too high for his works, which we are seeing today with silent tingles, have meant something other than steps cut into a hard stone, in the dazzling way to the supreme majesty He had once dreamed of sculpting an entire mountain, and so even the dome of St Peter s Cathedral was just a small work of what Michelangelo s genius knew His despair, embodied in the allegorical statues from Giuliano and Lorenzo s graves, Lorenzo Magnifico s son and nephew, is dominated by the statue of the Thinker, that symbol of victorious reason, which, like the ancient Minerva, carries the fighter helmet.In Michelangelo s youthful sculpture David who defended the freedom of his people, looks stoutly, with an incomparable dignity to his enemy, same as often has seen his enemies throughout whole life Michelangelo himself.Often, his art has caused him unimaginable physical pain Followed by the obsession of his own physical ugliness, with his nose deformed by that barbarian blow that made Torrigiani s colleague famous than his few sculptures in Spain, Michelangelo suffered horribly on the scaffolding of Sistine.Irving Stone sometimes talks about Michelangelo s creation as did, especially in the last decades, other commentaries as an expression of mystic ecstasy A personalist mystique that would raise to the surface from the turbulent depths of the subconscious images in which the artist recognizes, shattering, a sign that he is chosen to speak in the name of supreme forces That s what Freud and Merejkovski thought about da Vinci.Michelangelo is, like all the great creators of his time, a rationalist Human thinking is, in his opinion, the only force able to uncover nature and man.Michelangelo s personality is Faustian Not only in the sense of the untiring search for the truth, the supreme truth, the cosmic, and the human truth but also in the sense of love for human activity, carried out on multiple plans.Perhaps, at the time of his death, on that February 1564, Michelangelo, looking at the amazing work he produced during his long life, could have whispered, Stop, moment, you are so beautiful

  10. says:

    Sul treno per andare al Carnevale di Venezia, con il mio fidanzato di allora circa fine anni 80, lui prende lo zaino e ne tira fuori un volumone grosso grosso cui facevo il filo da un po e me lo porge Apprezzai tantissimo il dono ma soprattutto pensai che adesso avremmo dovuto girare per due giorni attraverso le calli Veneziane tra Maschere, madamine e frittelle, gravati di un peso aggiuntivo nella borsa Mi sono sempre chiesta ma aspettare a darmelo al ritorno magari no Ah quell incredibile fantasia visionaria degli Acquari e il loro fantastico senso di irrealt A prescindere dal piacevole ricordo, una biografia di Michelangelo Buonarroti bellissima.

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