• Leonardo Studies

Leonardo Studies


Kim H. Veltman

Thoughts on a Microfiche Roll Edition of The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci

October 1983

A printed edition of a manuscript traditionally involves a) a facsimile of the original, b) a transcription and c) a translation. The limitation of such an edition is that the sequence of pages is fixed. An edition of a manuscript, (or rare book), or a microfiche roll, indexed by means of a small computer, permits multiple sequences.

This is particularly advantageous with an author such as Leonardo da Vinci. Individual printed editions of his manus-cripts have divergent transcriptions, translations and frequently even different paginations. A microfiche roll edition, complemented by a home computer and multiple screens can display such variants simultaneously in the case of a single page and thus enable a precise comparison. In addition, different sequences of pages in various editions can be displayed.

New arrangements can also be introduced. Leonardo's notebooks frequently contain two to five themes on a single folio. If each folio of the manuscripts is identified with a series of catchwords (or searchwords) such as geography, geometry, mechanics or optics, a thematic presentation of the notes is possible. A reader will need merely to identify a) a searchword, say optics, and b) a particular manuscript, say Codex Atlanticus, and all folios pertaining to optics in this treatise can be displayed in sequence.

There is considerable debate concerning the dating of individual folios, particularly in the Codex Atlanticus and the Windsor Corpus. These variations, insofar as recorded in the secondary literature, can be fed into a computer. A reader can then request a display of different sequences of notes in a manuscript in accordance with alternative chronologies.

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