The Voynich Manuscript

by: Raymond Clemens (Editor)

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The Voynich Manuscript / ISBN 9780300217230 / Large 304-page hardcover from Yale / The first authorized copy of this mysterious, much-speculated-upon, one-of-a-kind, centuries-old puzzle.

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"For the first time, a complete reproduction [of] The Voynich Manuscript, has been published, featuring essays exploring what is known about the book and extra-wide margins so readers can record their responses to its beguiling, beautiful strangeness."--Nina Maclaughlin, Boston Globe

“For people who like a good historical mystery, this . . . fifteenth- or sixteenth-century Voynich Manuscript will fascinate.”--Rebecca Onion, Slate

Many call the fifteenth-century codex, commonly known as the “Voynich Manuscript,” the world’s most mysterious book. Written in an unknown script by an unknown author, the manuscript has no clearer purpose now than when it was rediscovered in 1912 by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich. The manuscript appears and disappears throughout history, from the library of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to a secret sale of books in 1903 by the Society of Jesus in Rome. The book’s language has eluded decipherment, and its elaborate illustrations remain as baffling as they are beautiful. For the first time, this facsimile, complete with elaborate folding sections, allows readers to explore this enigma in all its stunning detail, from its one-of-a-kind “Voynichese” text to its illustrations of otherworldly plants, unfamiliar constellations, and naked women swimming though fantastical tubes and green baths.

The essays that accompany the manuscript explain what we have learned about this work—from alchemical, cryptographic, forensic, and historical perspectives—but they provide few definitive answers. Instead, as New York Times best-selling author Deborah Harkness says in her introduction, the book “invites the reader to join us at the heart of the mystery.”