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The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

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Overview

Celebrating the 500th 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.

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Overview

Celebrating the 500th 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.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451213235
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/7/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 784
  • Sales rank: 345,674
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 1.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Irving Stone was born in San Francisco on July 14, 1903. He wrote several books in a genre that he coined the “biographical novel,” which recounted the lives of well-known historical figures. In these novels, Stone interspersed biography with fictional narrative on the psychology and private lives of his subjects. He also wrote biographies of Clarence Darrow and Earl Warren, and short biographies of men who lost presidential elections. He died on August 26, 1989.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2001

    brilliant, eye opening

    Stone has masterfully crafted a moving narrative that seeks both to educate and entertain. It succeeds with both grace and power. At once both subtle and profound, I recomend this book to all art lovers who want to really, really understand this great man and the legacy of creative genius he left behind.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The book is truly the glory of a life well lived as the artist dies leaving a truly monumental body of work behind. A masterpiece that is a pleasure to read.

    The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

    Although Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was born on 6 March 1475, the book opens on April of 1488, when Michelangelo was 13 y/o.

    If you take Wikipedia's entry on Michelangelo's life, you'll have a cliff note version of the novel, however, The Agony and the Ecstasy is not only the "biographical novel" of Michelangelo; but much more than that, it is the story of the Italian Renaissance in all its glory. Through Michelangelo's eyes one gets a full feeling for Florence and Rome at the time. Stone paints with a broad brush the stories of wars, feuding princes, religious machinations, and the wonderful art that the Renaissance produced.

    This novel is also an analysis of the struggle that is necessary to create. We experience the creation of just about every major work of art of Michelangelo and the personal struggles that went into the creative process. We see the artist as he struggles with family, princes, popes and other artists to get his designs accepted. Michelangelo started an apprentice on painting at age 13. He convince his father to allow this by having his master pay to his father instead of the opposite. However, Michelangelo soon discovers marble, and from there on he is smitten by sculpting. In Michelangelo's own words:

    "The painter draws to occupy space, the sculptor to displace it." (p.78)
    "...the painter draws to externalize, to wrench a shape out of himself and set it on paper; the sculptor draws to internalize, to pull a shape out of the world and solidify it with himself." (p.78)
    "No, no, cutting stone does not take strength out of you, it puts it back in." (p. 82)
    "If I don't have wonderful sculptures to show that the years have passed, then my memories will be truly bitter." (p. 618)

    His work was commissioned and interrupted by the powers that be: The Medici's, the popes, and royalty: making him move-back and forth-from Florence-his true home-to Bologna, and Rome.

    In his 89 years of life ( died 18 February 1564) he had three loves: Contessina Medici (consumed), Vittoria Colonna (not consumed and she died a virgin even though she was engaged at age 4 and was married), and Tomasso de Cavalieri, an apprentice thirty years his junior (not consumed, but Michelangelo was accused of having a sexual affair with him.
    The book is truly the glory of a life well lived as the artist dies leaving a truly monumental body of work behind. A masterpiece that is a pleasure to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Remarkable and captivating

    This is the best book I have ever read! The writing style is great, the characters are dramatically tied together and very in-depth. The deep look into the great life of the mast Michelangelo Buornarotti was not only highly informational, but incredibly exciting. His run-in with Pop Julius II, his escaping of his home town (Florence), and his illegal disectionals of corpses in Santo Spirito are all extremely capitavating! If you are a lover of history, the Renasissance, artists or Michelangelo, this will be the best historical novel you can possibly read. I happen to be interested in all of the above subjects, so this book definitly heads the list of novels that I have read.<BR/>The ability of Stone to use primary sources to dig deep into the real lives of Michelangelo and all of the other characters really super-charged this novel. It was more than a novel, and more than a history lesson, it was a journey through a life! The ups and downs, highs and lows of the most stubborn and genius artist of all time absolutely comes to life here! A page turner with information that makes you yearn for more, a most read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2004

    A Great Book For A Young Mind

    Read Author Stones original offering in 1962 while attending Army Missile school at Redstone Arsenal AL. Was young single US Air Force enlisted person spending much time in the library studying. Found book on best sellers list, bought it and loved it even though it was advanced for me. This book changed my life, all young people need to be challenged, to extend realm, 'Develop a yearning for learning, Professor Doctor Gardner, Bataan survivor' In all my life and studies I have always remembered the lessons of this book; patience, humility, perseverance, so much more.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2003

    Could it be any better?

    Irving Stone sets the bar for Historical fiction. This book is the epitome of living inside an artist! Stone captures the genius of Michelangelo's art, and gives a humanistic passion to his artwork. The history is incredible, the point of views are accurate. It not only incorporates Michelangelo, but the rise and fall of the Italian Renaissance and the Catholic religion as well. A wonderful book full of insight, art, and surprise, it will keep you interested and involved until the last page.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2002

    Before you go to Italy read this book!

    One summer when I was in my early twenties, I didn't have enough money for television. However I did have a library card, and I went in search of the biggest book I could find. It took me most of the summer to get through this book, but it was worth every minute. Irving Stone does some serious research, and he really knows the people he's writing about. I went to Italy several years later and when I saw the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, I knew that the artist didn't really enjoy doing it. The next day I saw the Pieta and I knew that is where his passion was. I felt as if I really understood this great art because I understood the artist.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    Excellent read

    I bought this PB in the Medici Chapel in Florence on the last day of my first trip to Rome and Tuscany. This book kept my vacation going mentally another two weeks. It brought to life, with even greater appreciation and understanding of, the great works by Michelangelo I'd just seen.

    I had not read a novel this long in a long time, but it is very well written and I ate it up. I enjoyed it very much. If only history books were written with this skill....

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Tedious Read

    This book's author went into micro-detail about everything. Couple that style with a million different characters with very difficult names, this book was a very slow read. Yet, I kept after it because it was so darn interesting. What a character and what incredible talent...with works dating to the 15th and 16th century which still exist to this day!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic!

    This is a great book. Absolutely, highly recommended book to anyone who admires the genius - Michelangelo. It tells a great story of the men who believed in beauty and his consistency and determination gave us some of the most astonishing world art. <BR/>The book is very detailed, but the story flows page after page. I couldn¿t wait to be done with my work and cuddle with the book at the end of my day.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2008

    Best Book Ever Written

    This is the most interesting historical novel I have read - worth the seven hundred pages. You feel as though you have traveled back in time and dread when you must put the book the book down. His life was so interesting that it is difficult to imagine those times. Irving Stone does an excellent job at putting you in the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2007

    amazing!

    I read this book in high school and it was the only book of many that i ever actually got all the way through. it makes you think, so if your not up for that challenge dont pick it up!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2006

    Great book

    In high school I was paid by my father to read his libray of thousands of books instead of going to work at fast food restraunt like my friends. Now I am in college and I have read many of the greatest novels ever written. This book gives an insight into a world unknown by people today and into a profession that has been computerized. It places great importance on Michelangelo's strive to achieve more than what was expected of him.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    An excellent Novel For the Wondering Mind

    Irving Stone does an excellent job in bringing the readers back to one of the most significant time periods in history known as the Reniassance. This novel sparkles with passion for the art and hunger for knowledge. It revolves around the life of Michelangelo who spent his whole life understading the meaning of art. As well as describing the life of the greatest artist Stone also does a good job in setting up the mood of that time period. His choice of descriptive language mirrors the style of htought, social and intellectual life of the poeple of the Renaissance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2004

    Great novel

    I am a newfound fan of Mr. Stone's work... and this book is a big reason. Mr. Stone did a terrific job captivating the audience with a dramatic story about a great historical figure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2003

    A must to understand Art

    I first read this book as a jounior in my SW Nebraska HIgh School. This single book increased my awareness and appreciation for art through the life and times of Michealangelo. Totally Awsome!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    An Enduring Classic

    This book captures the life of one of the world's greatest artists. More than just a chronicle of the life and work of Michelangelo, this rich biography illustrates that all of life is a journey and that passion always comes with a price.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2002

    Worthwhile Read

    I was absolutely intrigued by this entertaining and deeply moving novel. The story of creation and of the artist's stife, his perils and pitfalls, engages the reader in a whirlwind of emotional involvement in a richly historical tale. Not a quick, light read, but ultimately worth every second.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2001

    Take it to Italy with you

    A fictional biography, this book portrays the life and times of Michelangelo. Stone depicts the strife between the city-states, the grubbiness of life, and the papal struggles for power and their impact on his life and work. Coupled with a greedy, grabbing dysfunctional family, it is a wonder that he produced some of the world's great art. Stone attaches an appendix that lists Michelangelo's art and their location. Take this book with you on your real or imaginary Italian trip, and you'll be much rewarded.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2000

    the process of creation

    This is truly one of the greatest modern biographical novels. What makes this work most impressive is the research that went into making possible. Irving Stone researched the life and work of Michelangelo for six years in Italy, even becoming a sculptor's apprentice. The resulting benefits are enormous; Stone is able to convey with truth the workings of an artist's mind, and the passion that goes into the creation of a work of art. The author has given me, an art history enthusiast, invaluable insight into the process of artistic creation. This knowledge is just as important as remembering dates and works----perhaps even more so. I would recommend this book to any who wish to discover the strength of will that created some of the world's greatest art.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2000

    Fitting Work for Michelangelo

    Mr. Stone has written what I consider one of the best books I've ever read. Of all the books I've ever read, only 4 move me the way 'Agony and Ecstasy' has. He has captured the creative process within an artist's mind and made it one of the central pieces of his work. I've written many pieces of fiction--though unpublished--and Irving Stone hit it home in his description of what goes on inside the mind of the creator and how he/she views their creation. Excellent, and POWERFUL, work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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