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The book is actually really good with how it explores and analyzes DaVinci's life and artistic choices. There are not many illustrations in the book, and the ones that are included are not of finished drawings. They are literally gesture and concept sketches - the cover is a little misleading. If you are looking for something that has more sketches, check out Rosalind Ormiston's books on Leonardo on Amazon. If you are only looking to get into the master's head, this book is pretty good.
[I bought a hard copy first, because I thought there will be more illustrations, but realizing that there weren't, I sent it back to Amazon and bought a Kindle version instead.
This work by Oxford Classics is not the complete translation of all notebooks by Da Vinci. It is just a selection. Might be boring to a normal reader. But it had helped me to know about 'Leornado the author' and 'Da Vinci the Philosopher'. It doesn't have a detailed account of his life, but includes his observations on most of the topics from Science to Bible...
During the course of his life Leonardo da Vinci used his writings to greater explain his theories on art, science and man's relationship with nature. Although widely regarded as the archetypal Renaissance man Leonardo was not fluent in latin which may have been a problem for other people seeking to widen their knowledge in the fields of art and science in later-medieval Italy. But Leonardo created his own theories based on his own experiences, in many cases defying the theories of other thinkers and wholeheartedly believing it was experience that brought wisdom and revealed true knowledge to mankind. It is assumed that most of his writings have been lost but what remains gives modern readers a greater understanding of his theories on such subjects as the universe and its elements, mechanics and the quest for flight, the nature of art and the expression of the spirit.
"He [the painter] should act as a mirror which transmutes itself into as many colours as are those of the object that are placed before it. Thus he will seem to be a second nature."
"To the ambitious, whom neither the boon of life, nor the beauty of the world suffice to content, it comes as penance that life with them is squandered, and that they possess neither the benefits nor the beauty of the world."
This particular text also includes a number of his fables, prophecies and reflections on life. The final section covers his journey through life beginning with the Florentine period and ending with the French period. Many sketches are included but these are of the most basic type although there is a b/w photograph of the Vitruvian Man. Unlike the Oxford Shakespeare this book does not use sewn binding and the paper quality is not as good. But as an extremely affordable introduction to the writings of one of the most extraordinary minds in history this book is highly recommended.