Author: Toby Lester
Narrator: Stephen Hoye
Publication: Free Press (February 7, 2012); Tantor Media; Unabridged,MP3 - Unabridged CD edition (February 7, 2012)
Description: Everybody knows the image, but nobody knows its story.
In 1490, Leonardo da Vinci produced his iconic drawing of a man inscribed in a circle and a square: Vitruvian Man. Today the image appears on everything from coffee cups and T-shirts to corporate logos and spacecraft, and has become the world’s most famous cultural icon. Yet few people know anything about it. In this remarkable book, Toby Lester, the author of the award-winning Fourth Part of the World, tells the picture’s story, weaving together a saga of people and ideas that sheds surprising new light on the life and work of Leonardo, one of history’s most fascinating figures.
My Thoughts: I have always been fascinated with Leonardo Da Vinci. Teaching my fifth graders about the history of science increased my fascination, as did reading Leonardo Da Vinci by Kathleen Krull. When I saw this audiobook in Tantor's Bargain Bin, I had to buy it. It was lucky I had the audio version because the amount of detail would have defeated me in a print book. This book is a very scholarly study of the varied and various influences that led Da Vinci to create the drawing we know as Vitruvian Man.
Lester begins the story with Vitruvius who was a Roman architect in about 29 BC. He decided to achieve fame and possible fortune by writing a book about architecture which was dedicated to Caesar Augustus and which used Augustus as a model for human perfection. For Vitruvius and architects to at least Leonardo's time, the human proportion was a model of the divine and building should also be based on the same proportions. This idea, though not illustrated by Vitruvius, spurred Leonardo to make his famous drawing - Vitruvian Man.
Listening, I was immersed in the personalities of the time and in the political and artistic cultures of Italy. The author placed Leonardo in both his culture and his time and speculated on how they formed the man. It was fascinating and filled with very rich detail.
Stephen Hoye's voice was pleasant to listen to. I admire his ability to pronounce all those Italian names. I did have a moment or two of fear the Hoye would read us the bibliography. I can't imagine that the print version, as scholarly as it was, didn't have an extensive one. Fortunately, he did not.
I bought this audiobook from Tantor Media's Bargain Bin. You can buy your copy here in print or on audio.