An Introduction to the Voynich Manuscript, the World’s Most Mysterious Book

“The Voynich Manuscript is a true medieval book and has been carbon dated to the early 1400s.” Not a modern hoax, this notoriously bizarre text has actually “passed through the hands of many over the years”, including “scientists, emperors and collectors”. Although “we still don’t know who actually wrote it, the illustrations hint at the book’s original purpose”, having “much in common with medieval herbs, astrology guides and bath manuals”. Hence the likelihood that the Voynich Manuscript is “some kind of medical textbook, though very strange in every way. Then there is the writing.

This summary of the known history and nature of the most mysterious manuscript in existence comes from the Youtube video above, “Secrets of the Voynich Manuscript”. His Hochelaga channel has previously been featured here on Open Culture for episodes on medieval monsters, a guide to German Renaissance supernatural phenomena, Hokusai’s ghost art, and the biblical apocalypse.

In short, the Voynich manuscript could hardly find a more accommodating wheelhouse. And like in Hochelaga’s other videos, the subject isn’t broached with complete credulity, but rather a clear and straightforward discussion of why generation after generation of enthusiasts have continued to try to figure it out.

No aspect of the Voynich Manuscript fascinates so much as it was “written in a mysterious language with a unique alphabet and grammatical rules”. It can be an existing language rendered in code; it could be one created entirely and solely for this book. Although attempts are made with some frequency, “no one has been able to definitively resolve the language of the Voynich Manuscript”. It could, of course, be that “we fell into some big medieval prank”, but the creator of the video does not accept this explanation. Even in its incomprehensibility, the text seems to possess great complexity. If it were to be decoded, “would the magic and mystery disappear?” Or would we discover a whole new set of questions and embark on another journey entirely? »

Related content:

An animated introduction to “the most mysterious book in the world”, the 15th century Voynich manuscript

Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Goes Digitized: Explore the 15th-Century Text Linguists and Codebreakers Can’t Understand

The Voynich Manuscript: New documentary delves into the mysteries of the bizarre manuscript

Has the Voynich manuscript finally been decoded? : researchers claim that the mysterious text was written in phonetic Old Turkish

Cryptic Voynich Manuscript writing system explained: British researcher may have finally cracked the code

Artificial intelligence may have cracked the code of the Voynich manuscript: has modern technology finally solved a medieval mystery?

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts about cities, language and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter city ​​books, the book The Stateless City: A Walk Through 21st Century Los Angeles and the video series The city in cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshallon Facebook or Instagram.

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