OP here. I only include lengthy quotations if I feel they are particularly meaningful.
On Vincent's appearance at the time
"They found his looks odd and off-putting. Years later, they recalled his "homely, freckled face," his "crooked" mouth, his "narrowed, peering eyes," and his vivid hair cropped so close that it "stood up on end." [...] With his strange appearance and moody, solitary ways, Vincent invited scorn."
On Vincent's attempts to overcome depression
"Hungry for belief, but alienated from his childhood sources of belief, he reached out in every direction: to collections of poetry and philosophical tomes; to nature guides and self-improvements books; to George Eliot novels and silly romances; to ponderous histories and, the latest craze, biographies - searching for new sources of mystery in an increasingly literal world."
On Vincent's reading of Thomas Carlyle
"For Carlyle, it was man's fate to be a pilgrim, to wrestle with doubt, to reject old creeds and seek new insights into the "Unseen World." [...] Like Vincent, the hero of Carlyle's Sartor Resartus was ejected from his idyllic childhood home, estranged from his family, unsuccessful in friendship, spurned in love, and forced to face the world alone [...] Like Vincent, they had struggled with self-doubt and discouragement. His Dante was "an unimportant, wandering, sorrow-stricken man"; his Shakespeare, a sad soul who spent years "wading in deep waters" and "swimming for his life." His heroes cared not at all for the "smooth-shaven respectabilities" of conventional behavior, and their oddness blinded others, even their families, to their true worth. With nothing more than a "sincerity of heart" and a "clear, all-seeing eye," Carlyle promised, even a flawed, unconventional youth, estranged from his family and spurned by the world, could find the the "divinity" within himself. For Vincent, this was the ultimate consolation"