Da Vinci's Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 30, 2012 - Art - 275 pages
In Da Vinci's Ghost, critically acclaimed historian Toby Lester tells the story of the world’s most iconic image, the Vitruvian Man, and sheds surprising new light on the artistry and scholarship of Leonardo da Vinci, one of history’s most fascinating figures.

Deftly weaving together art, architecture, history, theology, and much else, Da Vinci's Ghost is a first-rate intellectual enchantment.”Charles Mann, author of 1493

Da Vinci didn’t summon Vitruvian Man out of thin air. He was inspired by the idea originally formulated by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who suggested that the human body could be made to fit inside a circle, long associated with the divine, and a square, related to the earthly and secular. To place a man inside those shapes was to imply that the human body could indeed be a blueprint for the workings of the universe. Da Vinci elevated Vitruvius’ idea to exhilarating heights when he set out to do something unprecedented, if the human body truly reflected the cosmos, he reasoned, then studying its anatomy more thoroughly than had ever been attempted before—peering deep into body and soul—might grant him an almost godlike perspective on the makeup of the world.

Written with the same narrative flair and intellectual sweep as Lester’s award-winning first book, the “almost unbearably thrilling” (Simon Winchester) Fourth Part of the World, and beautifully illustrated with Da Vinci's drawings, Da Vinci’s Ghost follows Da Vinci on his journey to understanding the secrets of the Vitruvian man. It captures a pivotal time in Western history when the Middle Ages were giving way to the Renaissance, when art, science, and philosophy were rapidly converging, and when it seemed possible that a single human being might embody—and even understand—the nature of the universe.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - GlennBell - LibraryThing

The author conducted research on the topic and then chose to theorize about what happened in detail and theorize what Leonardo felt. The information varies from somewhat interesting to truly trivial ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jcbrunner - LibraryThing

During my last visit to Venice, I was lucky to have a glance at the original drawing of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Its size is a bit larger than DIN A4, thus rather small and underwhelming as ... Read full review

Contents

Body of Empire
13
Microcosm
42
Milan
92
Further Reading
227

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About the author (2012)

Toby Lester is the author of The Fourth Part of the World (2009) and a contributing editor to The Atlantic. A former Peace Corps volunteer and United Nations observer, he lives in the Boston area with his wife and three daughters. His work has also appeared on the radio program This American Life.

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