Van Gogh's Peasant

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I call Vincent Van Gogh's nameless, faceless image simply, "The Old Man." Like a ghostly specter he centers Van Gogh's canvas, locked forever in the endless task of harvesting the fruit of the land. He appears to be a farmer, maybe Amish, with his large, rough hands and a back permanently stooped from years of hard labor.

This short story releases the image from its canvas prison. It gives life to the man, however temporary, and allows him to end his labor. True to the sketch, the story maintains his nameless and faceless persona, allowing the void to be filled by the unique experiences of each reader or viewer.

The Old Man" is a short story inspired by the Van Gogh sketch, "Peasant with Sickle, Seen from the Back". It is written as an allegory. The story traces the last year of life of an elderly farmer. It starts in the springtime, when he reflects on his youth and the springtime of his life. It then moves into the summer and the summer of his life as he weds and raises his children. In the autumn of his life he looses his wife to death, and in the winter of his life he joins her in the hereafter.

Endorsements Van Gogh's Peasant by Steven M. Ulmen (Publish America, 2004): This short story, inspired by one of Van Gogh's lesser known drawings, Peasant with Sickle, Seen from the Back, is a pleasant and low key depiction of an old farmer in the twilight years of his life. This story, while not specifically about Van Gogh at all, uses this simple and poignant drawing as the basis for a lyrical tale of the never-named farmer's lonely but satisfying life. Ulmen's story, with virtually no dialogue, is a study in understatement--a trait many aspiring writers should try to emulate.
David Brooks of the Van Gogh Gallery.

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