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Van gogh is one of the men to whom the fundamental question that gives its general title to this series applies most aptly and indeed most insistently. Not only the forty self-portraits painted or drawn in less than five years, but the continuous self-portrait inseparable from his life which his whole work in fact represents, together with the voluminous correspondence in which that work is reflected and elucidated, constitute one of the most dramatic and searching explorations of self ever attempted, on a par with Dostoevsky's writings, a desperate, tantalizing quest for a lost identity: "There is something within me, what is it then?"
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