Sunday, August 22, 2010
Graphomania, the Voynich Manuscript and Invented Texts
I'm starting work on the second book of a projected Manny Tippitoes trilogy, which will feature a Book of Forbidden Knowledge. In doing a little research into textual arcana I came across
The Voynich Manuscript. This book is believed to have originated in the 15th or 16th centuries and is written in a script and language that is similar to, but significantly different from, western ones. It has baffled scholars and cryptographers for centuries. The only known copy of the manuscript is at Yale University. One of the things that apparently frustrates would-be translators or de-coders is that the Voynich text (which is named after a book dealer who once owned the book, btw) looks like a guide to herbs, astronomy and possibly pharmaceuticals. It is also equally possible that the hand-written manuscript is an example of scribomania or graphomania.
As with so many things, the combination of age, possible value and the challenge of translating a mysterious text have driven many people to try and decipher the Voynich Manuscript. In the world of Manny Tippitoes; a similar text, written by a mad monk, will be a central focus for a number of characters.