Paul Gauguin’s Intimate Journals

Paul Gauguin
Preface by Emile Gauguin
Translated by Van Wyck Brooks

An Art / Books Vintage Classic

Paul Gauguin is one of the giants of French post-Impressionism and a pioneer of early modernism. A rebel in both art and life, he rejected his bourgeois upbringing and comfortable stockbroker’s job to devote himself to painting. Eventually, dismayed by the ‘hypocrisy of civilization’ and in search of a primitive idyll, he left his wife and children behind in France and took up residence in the South Seas, first in Tahiti and, later, in the Marquesas Islands. In the final months of his life, he wrote this witty and revealing autobiographical memoir with the request that it be published upon his death. It first appeared in French in 1918, and was translated into English three years later. As his son Émile wrote in the preface, ‘These journals are an illuminating self-portrait of a unique personality.… They bring sharply into focus for me his goodness, his humor, his insurgent spirit, his clarity of vision, his inordinate hatred of hypocrisy and sham.’

Wide-ranging and elliptical, these candid reflections reveal Gauguin’s inner thoughts on many subjects, including frank views on his fellow artists in Paris, his turbulent relationship with Vincent van Gogh, and the charms of Polynesian women, with glimpses into his often far-from-idyllic existence in the Pacific islands. This facsimile reproduces the first translation of the journals, a rare limited edition privately published in New York in 1921 for a select group of subscribers. With his own full-page sketches, these entertaining and enlightening musings give us a unique insight into Paul Gauguin the man and the artist.

Van Wyck Brooks was an American literary critic, biographer, and historian.

Emile Gauguin was Paul Gauguin’s eldest son. After working as a civil engineer in Colombia, he moved to the United States, where he lived until his death in 1955.