A few years ago we ran a post on one of the most mind-bogglingly awesome books ever written or conceived by mortal humankind—I refer to Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus, republished by Rizzoli in 2013. To this day it remains one of the most popular posts we’ve ever done, the degree of interest in this peculiar, fantastical volume of fanciful schematics, all in an invented language and alphabet, was quite stunning.
Similarly, The Voynich Manuscript, which dates from the early 15th century, is also written in an alphabet that nobody can decipher. The Codex Seraphinianus was written in the 20th century by a writer who is still among us, but the Voynich Manuscript isn’t like that. For centuries a great many people have tried to crack its elusive code, but nobody has been able to. So you get a very similar effect, marvelous illustrations of botanical fantasies, tagged with captions we can’t comprehend.
The Voynich Manuscript
Both of these are awesome coffee table books or just books to peruse idly and get your creative juices flowing.
A friend recently called my attention to this 2011 post by the Holy Books blog, which offers readers a chance to download the two books on PDF. It’s obviously been around for a while.
The 2011 doc ‘The Book That Can’t Be Read’
Fascinating Terence McKenna interview about the mysterious Voynich Manuscript; Rudolf II, the “mad king” of Bohemia; The Winter King and Queen; Doctor John Dee; Edward Kelley; Roger Bacon; and the book’s possible ties to alchemy and the Rosicrucian Enlightenment.
Thank you Lawrence Daniel Caswell!
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Codex Seraphinianus: A new edition of the strangest book in the world