Novel Discussion: The Agony & The Ecstasy (Italy)

Novel Stats

  • Author: Irving Stone
  • Subject: Michelangelo, his life, his art
  • Originally published: 17 March 1961
  • Genres: novel, biography, historical fiction, historical novel, biographical novel
  • Pages: 776
  • Audience: 18+
  • Adaptations: Movie “The Agony and The Ecstasy” (1965)

Cher’s Final Ratings

Novel Discussion: Armchair travel to Italy

I was a college freshman when the movie The Agony and The Ecstasy was first released in 1965. Assigned to compare a novel and its film adaptation, I selected this book and movie. This decision changed the course of my life; I was introduced to the tempestuous life and times of Michelangelo, the Italian Renaissance, and the lure of Italy.

Through Stone’s vivid writing and the stunning visual film, I fell in love with the person and work of Michelangelo. A biographical novel of the artist, the novel covers his entire life and work.

From my college project began a life-long quest to personally view as many of Michelangelo’s masterpieces possible. In addition, I felt inspired to explore and experience the places he lived, studied, and worked. Italy became my quest and was the first country outside of the United States I visited.

Even after traveling all over the world, Italy remains my all time favorite country.

As a lover of art and history, the novel deepened my grasp and appreciation for the genius of Michelangelo. He created, with a God-driven fury, what most believe is the greatest art the world has ever known. I certainly do.

An internationally best-selling novel, it vividly portrays Michelangelo’s zest for life, for his work (especially his deep-seated passion for sculpture), and his love and dedication to the people close to him. After reading the book, I felt I had an in-depth, personal understanding of the exciting and turbulent Italian Renaissance; a world dominated by the all-powerful de’Medici family, warring popes, and poisoning princes. Stone’s descriptive words on the page made it come alive to me. I was living in the times, walking the cobbled streets of Rome, and breathing in the marble dust from Michelangelo’s sculptures.

For more information and photos on Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel, please read my Blog posts on Michelangelo Alert! and Father’s Day, 2020.

While Michelangelo is most famous for his painting of the Sistine Chapel, his true love was sculpture. One of my favorites is his first Pieta. To learn more on this masterpiece, read my blog post from Good Friday, 2020

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