A couple having sex metamorphoses into a crocodile. Fish eyes from some weird creature float on the surface of the sea, staring at me. A man is riding his own coffin. Text accompanies these surreal images, handwritten, seemingly ancient but totally unintelligible.
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Codex Seraphinianus ,  originally published in , is an illustrated encyclopedia of an imaginary world, created by Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini between to Originally published in Italy, it has been released in several countries.
The Codex is an encyclopedia in manuscript with copious hand-drawn, colored-pencil illustrations of bizarre and fantastical flora , fauna , anatomies, fashions, and foods. Escher  and Hieronymus Bosch. The illustrations are often surreal    parodies of things in the real world, such as a bleeding fruit, a plant that grows into roughly the shape of a chair and is subsequently made into one, and a copulating couple who metamorphose into an alligator.
Others depict odd, apparently senseless machines, often with delicate appearances and bound by tiny filaments. Some illustrations are recognizable as maps or human faces; while others especially in the "physics" chapter are mostly or totally abstract. The false writing system appears modeled on Western writing systems, with left-to-right writing in rows and an alphabet with uppercase and lowercase letters, some of which double as numerals. Some letters appear only at the beginning or end of words, similar to Semitic writing systems.
The curvilinear letters are rope- or thread-like, with loops and even knots,  and are somewhat reminiscent of Sinhala script. In a talk at the Oxford University Society of Bibliophiles on 11 May , Serafini stated that there is no meaning behind the Codex 's script, which is asemic ; that his experience in writing it was similar to automatic writing ; and that what he wanted his alphabet to convey was the sensation children feel with books they cannot yet understand, although they see that the writing makes sense for adults.
Wechsler  and Bulgarian linguist Ivan Derzhanski,  and is a variation of base The book is in eleven chapters, in two sections. The first section appears to describe the natural world of flora, fauna and physics.
The second deals with various aspects of human life, including garments, history, cuisine and architecture. Each chapter seems to address a general encyclopedic topic, as follows:. After the last chapter is a table of contents or index, followed by an apparent afterword whose writing is more casually rendered. The words scattered on the floor of the illustration are from the same book.
Two years later, a single-volume edition was issued in the United States, in Germany and in the Netherlands:. The s editions were out of print for several years before Franco Maria Ricci published an augmented, single-volume edition in In , Rizzoli published an expanded, but less expensive, edition in Italy.
It features additional illustrations and a preface by the author:. In , Rizzoli published a second revised edition, as well as limited, signed, and numbered "deluxe" edition. They printed copies in Italian and in English:. Baird Searles , in Asimov's Science Fiction April , says "the book lies in the uneasy boundary between surrealism and fantasy, given an odd literary status by its masquerade as a book of fact". Douglas Hofstadter , in Metamagical Themas , finds many of the illustrations "grotesque and disturbing" and others "extremely beautiful and visionary".
He says the book "seems to [some people] to glorify entropy , chaos, and incomprehensibility". American journalist Jim Dwyer finds that the work is an early critique of the Information Age. If the encyclopedia tends to fix the knowledge of a certain era, in Serafini's "fantaencyclopedia" there is nothing solid. According to Italo Calvino, the skeleton is "the only nucleus of reality which endures in the same way in this world full of interchangeable shapes". For this ironic and involving variability, the Codex Seraphinianus keeps in touch with the psychic area and establish an attempt of "contradictory world's cataloguing of halfway shapes".
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Illustrated encyclopedia of an imaginary world. Dewey Decimal. Seraphinianus is a Latinisation of the author's surname, Serafini which in Italian, refers to the seraphs. La Repubblica. University of Minnesota Press. Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages. Greenwood Publishing Group. Sterling Publishing. University of California, Irvine. Archived from the original on Retrieved Asimov's Science Fiction.
University of Nevada Press. In Michael Ondaatje ed. Lost Classics. Bloomsbury Publishing. North Carolina State University at Raleigh. Retrieved 9 April Derzhanski Hofstadter Basic Books. Che ora diventa un film , Artribune.
The original two-volume work.
Deciphering the mysterious encyclopedia known as the Codex Seraphinianus
In October Rizzoli will be republishing what is regarded by many to be the strangest book in the world, the Codex Seraphinianus. But the book is just so damned strange that it has accumulated a veritable industry of speculation about its meaning, deeper origins, and whether the language in which it is written actually has any syntax or not. Serafini has said relatively little about it himself over the years, and denies that the script has any meaning, but no one really believes that, including me. Phillip K Dick? Stanislaw Lem?
Codex Seraphinianus XXXIII
You see what you want to see. If you were a longtime devotee of an intensely symbolic, mythic text, you might refuse to believe this. Serafini tells Wired he thinks Voynich is a fake. The idea of made-up languages is not new at all. Serafini has been delighted to see an extensive internet community coalesce around the book, and has had his fun with it. We're hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads.