You Can Read 570 Digitized Pages From Leonardo Da Vinci’s Visionary Notebooks Online for Free

Mayukh Saha

(Mayukh SahaWhat does the world know about Leonardo da Vinci? He painted the Monalisa, he wrote backwards, and he designed flying machines way before anyone else thought of them. But is that all this absolute genius created? Obviously not! We are mere plebs in the grand scheme of things and are properly uninitiated to the genius that da Vinci truly was. But there’s nothing to fret as the British Library has digitized over 570 pages of Codex Arundel– da Vinci’s personal notes. And let me just say this- you don’t have to be a Renaissance scholar to enjoy it. 

Leonardo da Vinci's work

The Guardian reports that the diaries of da Vinci reflect the universality of his mind. And although he was a certified technophile, he didn’t really do it for the money. Or fame. He simply wanted to discover cool, fancy stuff. 

For centuries Leonardo da Vinci’s genius was kept hidden from the world- mostly as a scientist. His Mona Lisa had acquired fame, but that wasn’t all there was to him. After his death in France, his protege Francesco Melzi brought a lot of his manuscripts back to Italy. Unfortunately, Melzi’s heirs failed to see the brilliance in the manuscripts and disposed of them. Even today, there are a few thousand pages of his books still out there, containing designs for submarines, airplanes, cars, etc. 


Digitized notebooks came into existence in 2007, when the British Library and Microsoft joined forces. Their project was called ‘Turning the Pages 2.0’ wherein one simply turned the page using animation. As far as Leonardo da Vinci goes, you can definitely choose to scan the 500 odd pages of Codex Arundel. Or, if you think so much information might scramble your brains, check their site. The British Library has a miniseries on his life, and works. 

Leonardo da Vinci

The entire digitization of the notebooks is quite ironic, considering da Vinci never wanted it to be seen. But it is high time that people recognize the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. He deserves all the credit that any library or government has to offer. Also, if one is interested, Guardian has a piece on his quirks– from wearing pink tights to shopping lists. Do give it a read.

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