Ancient Book Nobody Can Read Gets a Publisher

The move may unlock secrets of 15th-century Voynich manuscript
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2016 10:15 AM CDT
Ancient Book Nobody Can Read Gets a Publisher
Experts have tried to unlock the secrets of the Voynich Manuscript for decades. Now the mysterious book is to be published.   (General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University)

It has been called the world’s most mysterious book. The 15th-century Voynich manuscript, which, as the Guardian puts it, combines an "intriguing mix of elegant writing and drawings of strange plants and naked women," has stumped scholars for decades. Now, after a 10-year quest, small Spanish publisher Siloe has won the right to reproduce the mysterious tome, which sits in a vault at Yale University. Siloe will publish 898 replicas of the manuscript next year, raising the hope that a cryptologist will be able to crack the code, notes the Telegraph. The reproductions won’t come cheap, however, each costing between $8,000 and $9,000. "It's a book that has such an aura of mystery that when you see it for the first time … it fills you with an emotion that is very hard to describe," delighted publisher Juan Jose Garcia told the Guardian. Some 300 copies have already been pre-ordered.

The manuscript is named after Wilfried Voynich, a Polish antiquarian who bought it from Italian Jesuits in 1912, but its origins are unknown. The 13th-century English Franciscan friar Roger Bacon, who was jailed for practicing alchemy, was ruled out as its creator after carbon dating put it between 1404 and 1438. Others have pointed to Leonardo da Vinci, who often wrote in code during the Inquisition. Some experts say the 250 vellum pages could be a study in medieval medicine, while the Guardian notes that others think the Voynich holds magical powers, the Guardian says. While many experts have puzzled over the manuscript without success, in 2014 one cryptographer claimed to have deciphered 10 words. (More Voynich stories.)

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