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The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci


colour. Another page will begin with his investigations on the
structure of the intestines, and end with philosophical remarks as to
the relations of poetry to painting; and so forth.
Leonardo himself lamented this confusion, and for that reason I do
not think that the publication of the texts in the order in which they
occur in the originals would at all fulfil his intentions. No reader
could find his way through such a labyrinth; Leonardo himself
could not have done it.
Added to this, more than half of the five thousand manuscript
pages which now remain to us, are written on loose leaves, and at
present arranged in a manner which has no justification beyond the
fancy of the collector who first brought them together to make
volumes of more or less extent. Nay, even in the volumes, the
pages of which were numbered by Leonardo himself, their order,
so far as the connection of the texts was concerned, was obviously
a matter of indifference to him. The only point he seems to have
kept in view, when first writing down his notes, was that each
observation should be complete to the end on the page on which it
was begun. The exceptions to this rule are extremely few, and it is
certainly noteworthy that we find in such cases, in bound volumes
with his numbered pages, the written observations: "turn over",
"This is the continuation of the previous page", and the like. Is not
this sufficient to prove that it was only in quite exceptional cases
that the writer intended the consecutive pages to remain connected,
when he should, at last, carry out the often planned arrangement of
his writings?
What this final arrangement was to be, Leonardo has in most cases
indicated with considerable completeness. In other cases this
authoritative clue is wanting, but the difficulties arising from this
are not insuperable; for, as the subject of the separate paragraphs is
always distinct and well defined in itself, it is quite possible to
construct a well-planned whole, out of the scattered materials of
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