The Independent On Sunday
We are all now used to reading literary biographies which painstakingly set out to prove that a writer’s life was identical with his oeuvre and that the books were wholly autobiographical. So it’s an interesting experience to see this well-worn literary technique applied to Edvard Munch, the one truly great painter produced by Norway and indeed by the four Scandinavian countries. Sue Prideaux is well equipped for the task: part Norwegian, fluent in the language, with a great-uncle, Thomas Olsen, who was one of Munch’s most loyal patrons. She grew up with his art if not with his life… read more
The Sunday Times
Much can be deduced from his art, but the facts surrounding his life remain obscure to an English-speaking audience. Though he sought to portray communal emotions, he claimed that his work fitted together “like the pages of a diary”. A biography was, therefore, needed to uncover the turbulent experiences that tempered his art. Sue Prideaux now provides this, making use of a mass of hitherto unused material. The result is a magisterial portrait of a deeply troubled man. It is both humorous and tragic in its account of Munch’s abortive relationships with women, his dependence on drink, and his struggle for success and recognition… read more
Publishers Weekly (USA)
Most famous for his painting The Scream, an iconic expression of anxiety and a reflection of his inner torment, Edvard Munch strove to paint his “soul’s diary,” a quest Prideaux chronicles incisively in this fascinating study. The first comprehensive English-language biography of Munch (1863-1944) presents an in-depth artistic, intellectual and psychological portrait of the Norwegian artist. A novelist and art historian, Prideaux (Magnetic North) enlivens her narrative with excerpts from Munch’s diaries, effectively tracing the roots of this mental suffering: his father’s religious fanaticism, the death of his mother and favourite sister, the insanity of another sister and the fear that he would go mad himself… read more
University of Newcastle
Such was the nature of Edvard Munch’s life that this book provides a gripping read. Prideaux provides a convincing sense of the psychological experiences of Munch and also the flavour of the times that he occupied.