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The Voynich Manuscript: The Mysterious Code That Has Defied Interpretation…

by Gerry Kennedy, Rob Churchill (Author)

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272570,713 (3.85)17
In 1912, Wilfrid Voynich, an antiquarian book dealer, stumbled upon a strange volume, its vellum pages covered in a beautiful but unrecognisable script accompanied by equally mystifying pictures. The codex has remained undeciphered from that day to this. Voynich believed the codex to be the work of medieval philosopher Roger Bacon, others that of the Elizabethan mathematician and occultist John Dee. Whoever created the book--which now resides at Yale University--it remains to this day a singular enigma which continues to defy the best efforts of linguists, cryptologists, and scholars. With the benefit of the authors' exhaustive research, readers can hazard their own guesses as to the meaning and provenance of this most beguiling of mysteries.… (more)
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  1. 62
    Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini (lorax)
    lorax: Kennedy's book describes a mysterious manuscript with an undeciphered script and strange illustrations, that may be centuries old or only date to the early twentieth century, with an unknown purpose. Serafini's is a book with an undeciphered script and bizarre illustrations.… (more)
  2. 00
    Henry Darger: In the Realms of the Unreal by John M. MacGregor (doomjesse)
  3. 00
    Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts by Andrew Robinson (VanishedOne)
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Showing 5 of 5
What a strange manuscript that Wilfred Voynich showed the world in 1912. It was a medieval manuscript with strange writing and drawings of unidentified plants, female nudes, astrological symbols and medicinal herbs. Voynich implied that this was a work of Roger Bacon from the 13th century. For the last hundred years, scholars have tried to decipher the writing and identify the plants. Although several scholars attempted to claim success in breaking the code in portions of the work, no one has been able to solve the mysteries. But the book is also the story of Voynich and several figures from the 16th century who may have touched the manuscript as well as the scientists and cryptologists who have tried to solve the mystery today. Is it genuine dating from the time of Roger Bacon or from the 1500s? Or is it the work of Voynich himself? There are no answers. The manuscript is now in the hands of Yale University where it can be studied and there are images on the web as well as active lists about the manuscript.

In addition to black and white images, the book contains many clear images in color of the manuscript pages as well as other similar works for comparison. Authors Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill have meticulously researched the topic and have cited all sources, including several unpublished manuscripts that they used in the preparation of the book. The bibliography includes all important sources (both books and articles) as well as websites. They also include an excellent index. Their explanation of ciphers and codes was fascinating.

The book has asked a lot of questions and presented the facts as we know them today. There are no answers, only further questions. Is this an elaborate hoax or a genuine coded work? We may never know. ( )
2 vote fdholt | Nov 18, 2013 |
An investigation into a manuscript written in cipher and full of mysterious drawings, that was rediscovered in an Italian monastery in 1911 by the book dealer whose name it now bears, but was rumoured to have been written in Middle Ages by the English monk Roger Bacon. Kennedy's interest in the subject was sparked by the discovery that he was related to Wilfrid Voynich's wife Ethel (the daughter of George Boole the mathematician who invented Boolean logic).

The book covers the history of the manuscript since its rediscovery and its putative history in earlier centuries, as well as the numerous failed attempts to decipher it and the many theories concerning its origins and purpose. After an even-handed discussion of all the theories the book ends with the authors telling us their individual conclusions about the Voynich manuscript, and I rather think that I may agree with Rob Churchill about the manuscript's origins. But you will have to read the book in order to find out what he thinks! ( )
1 vote isabelx | Apr 27, 2011 |
I had misgivings when I bought this, fearing a new-age, corn-ball pile of nonsense about this bizarre script. Instead, what I found was a thoughful, insightful investigation of the manuscript and the various attempts to understand it - not one of which involved antedilivian civilization or aliens. ( )
5 vote jcovington | May 21, 2007 |
TBR
  miketroll | Mar 14, 2007 |
Well this was a new one to me! The Voynich Manuscript discusses a rather odd document (now held at Yale's Bienecke Library) which seems to be written in some sort of cipher and is accompanied by a series of bizarre illustrations. The work has resisted all attempts to force its secrets, and remains one of those enigmatic historical problems that can serve to either tickle the imagination or drive one totally mad.

Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill, English television writers/producers, offer here a readable and useful introduction to the manuscript, its checkered history, the efforts of those who have sought to explain it, and also a grand overview of the various theories which have sprung up around it. Is it an unknown work by the thirteenth-century mystical friar Roger Bacon? Or is it the product of migraine-induced hallucinations? Could it be nothing more than a very elaborate hoax (and if it's a hoax, was it created in the early Renaissance, or the early twentieth century?). Is it possible that humans will ever break its code?

While this book is rather too full of digressions, dead ends and tangents, the manuscript's own power to intrigue kept me going. It is, without a doubt, one of the more fascinating literary mysteries I've read about recently. Not to mention the great cast of book characters who make appearances: Wilfred Voynich (who may have pilfered the manuscript in the first place from an Italian library), Milicent Sowerby, H.P. Kraus, &c. And those extraordinary illustrations ... wow.

http://philobiblos.blogspot.com/2006/12/book-review-voynich-manuscript.html ( )
6 vote JBD1 | Dec 6, 2006 |
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Churchill, RobAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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In 1912, Wilfrid Voynich, an antiquarian book dealer, stumbled upon a strange volume, its vellum pages covered in a beautiful but unrecognisable script accompanied by equally mystifying pictures. The codex has remained undeciphered from that day to this. Voynich believed the codex to be the work of medieval philosopher Roger Bacon, others that of the Elizabethan mathematician and occultist John Dee. Whoever created the book--which now resides at Yale University--it remains to this day a singular enigma which continues to defy the best efforts of linguists, cryptologists, and scholars. With the benefit of the authors' exhaustive research, readers can hazard their own guesses as to the meaning and provenance of this most beguiling of mysteries.

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