Leonardo da Vinci: The Daedalian Mythmaker

Overview

This study is the first to consider the whole body of Leonardo's works with an eye to a comprehensive interpretation that combines both cultural history and the history of details. According to Maiorino, Leonardo's was a myth making mode of activity that had a Daedalian range and affected art and technology alike. As both artist and inventor, Leonardo did not separate reason from experience, empiricism from abstraction, an attitude Maiorino characterizes as "Anti-Humanism." Rather than accepting the earlier view ...

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Overview

This study is the first to consider the whole body of Leonardo's works with an eye to a comprehensive interpretation that combines both cultural history and the history of details. According to Maiorino, Leonardo's was a myth making mode of activity that had a Daedalian range and affected art and technology alike. As both artist and inventor, Leonardo did not separate reason from experience, empiricism from abstraction, an attitude Maiorino characterizes as "Anti-Humanism." Rather than accepting the earlier view that the culture of the Renaissance was divided, he argues that Anti-Humanism was present from the start in such founders as Petrarch and Alberti and continued to be a current in later authors and artists; hence the significance of Leonardo to Humanism and to Baroque and Renaissance culture at large.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Maiorino gives the reader a fresh look at Leonardo that clarifies the parts of his enterprise without sacrificing the whole. Indeed, dialogism and Daedalian myth making provide a holistic grasp of Leonardo that is intuitive, explanatory, and illuminating. It is surprising and satisfying how often Maiorino is able to offer fresh insights and perspectives.”
—James V. Morollo, Columbia University

“This book is a coherent discussion of Leonardo’s various undertakings in music, weapons design, inventions practical and fantastic from the notebooks, and of course, the paintings. Maiorino’s delicate use of Bakhtin’s concept of dialogue to encompass the complex relation of humanist/anti-humanist tendencies in Leonardo and his world is exemplary in its use of theory to illuminate practice.”
—Michael Holquist, Yale University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271008172
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/7/1992
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Giancarlo Maiorino is Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of Renaissance Studies at Indiana University. He is the author of Adam "New Born and Perfect": The Renaissance Promise of Eternity (1987), The Cornucopian Mind and the Baroque Unity of the Arts (Penn State, 1990), and The Portrait of Eccentricity: Arcimboldo and the Mannerist Grotesque (Penn State, 1991).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
At the Forge of Human Nature
1 Leonardo's Antihumanist Roots 13
2 Saint Jerome and the Trials of Age 29
3 Fractures of Faith in the Adoration of the Magi 53
Archetypes of Beauty
4 At the Spring of Memory: The Virgin of the Rocks and the Lure of the Source 73
5 Saint John the Baptist: The Androgynous Watchman of Eternity 93
Archetypes of Power
6 The Art of War and the Inventor's Rhetoric of Power 117
7 The Daedalian Artifex: Myth, Technology, and Doom 141
The Forger of Experience
8 The Vitruvian Man: At the Navel of Life's Compass 177
9 "Biological Inventions": Ludic Grotesque or Forbidden Myth? 203
Dialogism
10 The Dialogic "Mean" in the School of Athens 229
11 The Dialogism of Humanism and Anti-Humanism 243
The Myth of Myths
12 Mona Lisa: The Smile of Life 253
Notes 275
Index 301
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