Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most interesting characters of the Italian Renaissance. He wrote in Italian using a special kind of shorthand that he invented himself. People who study his notebooks have long been puzzled by something else, however. He usually used “mirror writing,” starting at the right side of the page and moving to the left.

Italian Renaissance - Leonardo Da Vinci
Italian Renaissance – Leonardo Da Vinci

Not only did Leonardo write in mirror-image script from right to left, but he used strange spellings and abbreviations, and his notes were not arranged in any logical order. He only wrote in the normal direction when he was writing something intended for other people. People who were contemporaries of Leonardo left records saying that they saw him write and paint lefthanded.

He also made sketches showing his own left hand at work. Being left-handed was highly unusual in Leonardo’s time. Because people were superstitious, children who narurally started using their left hands to write and draw were forced to use their right hands.
No one knows why Leonardo used mirror writing, though several possibilities have been suggested. Some believe that he was trying to make it harder for people to read his notes and steal his ideas. Others think that he was hiding his scientific ideas from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings sometimes disagreed with what Leonardo observed.

Another possibility is that writing from left to right was messy because the ink just put down would spread as his hand moved across it; therefore, Leonardo chose to write in reverse because it prevented smudging. Over 4,000 pages of Leonardo’s scientific and technical observations in his handwritten manuscripts have survived. It seems that Leonardo planned to publish them as a great encyclopedia of knowledge, but like many of his projects, this one was never finished.

After his death, his notes were scattered among libraries and collections all over Europe. While Leonardo’s technical treatises on painting were published as early as 1651, most of his scientific work remained unknown until the 19th cenrury.



Mark the best choice.
1. The purpose of the text is mainly ________ _
a) to show that Leonardo was the inventor of mirror writing
b) to explain why some artists write from right to left
c) to explain the originality of Leonardo’s hand-writing
d) to inform the reader of the disadvantages of left-handedness
2. Leonardo da Vinci ___________ _
a) wrote from left to right when he wanted people to understand his work
b) never used ink in his work to keep his notes clean
c) shared his scientific researches with the Roman Catholic Church
d) published his greatest work in the encyclopedia
3. How many possibilities of why Leonardo used mirror writing are mentioned in the text?
a) 2 c) 4
b) 3 d) 5
4. this one (para. 2) does NOT refer to’ ______ _
a) the great encyclopedia of knowledge
b) this project
c) this note
d) this plan
5. scattered can best be replaced by _______ _
a) spread c) posted
b) served d) separate

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