Review: The Voynich Manuscript

Posted on November 8th, 2017 @ 19:29
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The Voynich Manuscript: The Complete Edition of the World's Most Mysterious and Esoteric CodexThe Voynich Manuscript: The Complete Edition of the World’s Most Mysterious and Esoteric Codex by Stephen Skinner

My rating:

Blurb:

The Voynich Manuscript is an extensively illustrated codex featuring cosmological and astrological diagrams interwoven with detailed herbal illustration, relating both to the magical and alchemic view of the universe. It is written in a strangely beautiful cryptographic script.

Review:

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

I discovered the Voynich Manuscript sometime last year, and since then have been intrigued by it, both its text and illustrations.

Most of the book is devoted to scans and photos of the manuscript’s pages. In that regard, while I got a PDF copy here, but I definitely recommend a paper one to fully appreciate those since the illustrations in the PDF were a little blurry, perhaps because it was an ARC and not the final, sold version (I’d get such a copy myself if I had enough space to keep physical books). A paper copy also lends itself more easily to going back and forth between photos and the introduction & commentary, at the beginning of the book, and I think being able to do that is a must-have here. Finally, for want of deciphering the Voynich, being able to admire and contemplate its content is part of the pleasure, after all—so, paper all the way. (I do hope it’s printed on some nifty glossy paper with a very nice smell; yes, I sniff books, I’m liable not to buy one if it literally stinks.)

Speaking of the introduction, I found it really interesting, regarding the manuscript’s history but also the many interpretations, and descriptions of specific illustrations and why exactly they’re puzzling (such as the one with women bathing in an intestine-like shape—I learnt something new about what that may represent, and further than that, if it’s the right interpretation, what it reveals about the manuscript’s author).

The manuscript itself… Fascinating ‘gibberish’, I wish I had more abilities in deciphering, for I would fail for sure, but at least I might have more of an insight about where to possibly start? It doesn’t seem based on a European language, at least not an alphabetic one, and is thought to rely on a syllabic system. Was it an entirely created language?

I do hope someone will one day fully decrypt it. Preferably while I’m still alive to see it.

Conclusion: 4 stars (well, 3 for an ebook version because you can’t leaf through as easily, but I’m nitpicking).

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