Books: The Austere Heretic

GAUGUIN by Henri Perruchot. 398 pages. World. $6.95.

"I regret what I said to you about Gauguin," the painter Paul Sérusier wrote to a fellow artist in 1880. "There is nothing of the humbug about him." Sérusier was wrong. There was a great deal of the humbug about Gauguin, as his latest biographer convincingly demonstrates. In fact, it was mainly the humbuggery that gave Gauguin a reputation—long before Somerset Maugham set his pen to The Moon and Sixpence—of being the very prototype of the artist in revolt against his society. Gauguin was aware of...

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