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Comment: 1st US Edition. Item may show signs of shelf wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. Includes supplemental or companion materials if applicable. Access codes may or may not work. Connecting readers since 1972. Customer service is our top priority.
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Codex seraphinianus Hardcover – January, 1983

138 customer reviews

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Hardcover, January, 1983
$2,000.00 $575.00
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


“…the book really does live up to its reputation: The drawings are in turn hilarious, disturbing, bizarre and, sometimes, just flat-out incomprehensible, but all of them are annotated in Serafini’s script.” -Dangerous Minds
“It’s not the sort of thing that easily lends itself to classification, but probably the most accurate way to describe it would be as an encyclopedia of an invented alien civilization…the Codex is still a disorienting and provocative vision of inscrutable otherness.”
Codex Seraphinianus is an art book in the most direct sense—there are big, beautiful drawings accompanied by indecipherable letterforms--and it is impossible to “read” in a literal way. The text has remained a mystery all these years, and perhaps that’s part of its draw as an art object.” -FineBooks Magazine

“Is the best art book of the year one that is not only impossible for me to review, but one that is probably equally impossible for you to understand? It’s a handsome, hilarious and enduring puzzle that not only features wonderful art in it, but in its entirety captures another kind of human creativity—the encyclopedia, the result of compiling and collecting, and an unlikely medium for artists.” -North Adams Transcript

"Codex Seraphinianus: History’s Most Bizarre and Beautiful Encyclopedia, Brought Back to Life...a weird and wonderful masterpiece of art and philosophical provocation on the precipice of the information age....Undoubtedly one of the most intricate and beautiful art books ever created." -Brain Pickings

“Wow. One of the strangest and most beautiful books ever published.” –Faerie Tales
“Codex Seraphinianus is in a sense the most elaborate book of doodles ever made. What makes it much more than that is not just the quality of Serafini’s drawings and the superior book-making craft, but its brilliant structure. Part of the genius of the Codex is that there is enough information to be familiar but not enough to make any sense.” –Spectrum Culture
“The intense strangeness of Codex Seraphinianus belies the joyous feel of the artistry. Even the oddest, most unnerving images are rendered with pastel beauty, and a softness that makes them almost endearing.” –KQED --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Luigi Serafini is an architect, ceramist, glazier, painter, sculptor, designer, opera director, set designer, and critic who works in Italy and abroad. In 2007, the Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea in Milan dedicated a successful mostra ontological (ontological exhibition) to him. He has illustrated works by Franz Kafka and Michael Ende. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Abbeville Press; 1st American ed edition (January 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896594289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896594289
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 9.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,279,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 96 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 1997
Format: Hardcover
We owe this 20-year old piece of high fantasy to a Roman architect, Luigi Serafini. This is a large book of splendid, eerie illustrations of an impossible world in a parallel universe, with copious comments in an incomprehensible language in an imaginary script. A world at once familiar, inhabited as it is by humans, and hauntingly different, with its very own laws of physics, its strange fauna, its stranger flora, its unimaginable society, technology, even mathematics. The Codex Seraphinianus is to that world what Diderot's Encyclopaedia is to ours, only lavishly and artistically illustrated. A feast for the eyes, a tease for the brain, to which you will find yourselves drawn again and again, and again, in ever renewed fascination. It is a particular joy in the Italian edition (published by Franco Maria Ricci of Milan) if you can afford the outrageous price -- some US$250: hand-made paper, a hard-cover bound in black silk in a box clad in black silk, such luxuries do not come cheaply
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Annoire on December 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The contents are magical, intriguing, enchanting. No problem with the material at all. 5 stars.
The presentation and production, however, are flawed almost beyond use. 1 star.
The selection of a toned, laid paper for the interior is destructive to the images -- breaking them up, rather than reflecting them whole to the eye. I understand that the original was on this type of paper: it was a trendy choice in the 70s -- and quite the wrong choice for delicate images. Today it is more than wrong. And despite the texture and weight of the paper, there was still considerable "show-through" of images on the back of the sheet AND the next page.
The hardcover employs 2 kinds of foil, embossing, and 4-color on a linen finish, and it still manages to look cheap. The grey of the boards showed thru the wonderful yellow of the end papers. The corners of the cover boards came crushed, cause it was shipped in a padded envelope.
No dust jacket. No. Dust. Jacket. Even a simple paper sleeve, please. Something to protect it.
AND the much-mentioned sticky-mcsticky sticker on the back.
You *can* use Benzine to remove it, but i am leaving mine on as the only visual confirmation in the package that, yes, this is indeed a $125 book.
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69 of 79 people found the following review helpful By david laufnick on May 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I figured for 9 bucks I would buy the kindle edition of this as I didn't feel up to spending over a hundred on a real copy.

The book itself is very interesting, reminds me of Fantastic Planet.
But it's a bit frustrating on the Kindle (for PC in this case). You can't zoom in or examine any pics more closely, and it looks like someone just slapped it down on a desktop scanner and scanned it in.

It should have been a higher res copy with better editing. You can see the wrinkles on pages where they didn't get it flat on the scanner. C'mon folks, you buy a copy and tear it apart to make a good high res scan if you are going to do it this way.

So 5 starts for the book itself, and I'd go a 2.5 on the quality of the Kindle edition. I'm averaging that out to a 4 in this case. It would only have taken a few more hours to really make a GREAT copy.

I feel for 9 dollars it's worth it. I still plan on buying a paper copy some day.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Thomas H on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've been fascinated with the Codex since I first came across the FMR edition at a small bookshop in Valletta in the 1980s. This edition is very similar to the edition Rizzoli published in 2006, which was distributed exclusively in Italy. The cover is identical, and it is printed on the same luxuriously thick, Italian paper. The chief difference lies in ten additional pages in the beginning that Mr. Serafini contributed for this edition, as well as a newly re-written Decodex. The 2006 edition came with a small pamphlet containing various essays in different languages on the Codex, while in this this addition, the Decodex is limited to a single essay written by Luigi Serafini and translated into English, French, German, Spanish, and Russian. Rizzoli New York has done a fine job reprinting this book for the American market, and would be a fine addition to any book lover's library.

If you're looking to obtain one of the strangest books ever published, you're better off buying the Codex elsewhere.

Five stars for the book
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Mark Ellis on October 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've seen complaints about the big ugly paper sticker on the back and I was able to take it off with little issue. Here's what you do:

Get a bottle of goo gone. Here's where you can find it on amazon: Homax Oz Goo Gone GG12

It's super useful stuff so it's worth buying a whole bottle of it.

Step one: Put on some plastic gloves. Goo Gone is somewhat toxic so better safe than sorry. Soak a cotton bud or a cotton ball with goo gone.

Step two: gently soak the label with the cotton bud/ball until it's covered in goo gone. You might have to reload the bud/ball to get the label evenly wet. DO NOT WORRY IF YOU GET GOO GONE ON THE COVER ITSELF. DESPITE MAKING IT DARKER IT /WILL/ EVAPORATE.

Step three: Wait 10 minutes. Don't try anything before 10 minutes. you should see the goo gone working its way under the border of the sticker.

Step four: Take a plastic shim of some sort like a plastic spoon or a guitar pick and gently and slowly work under the label. Once you have enough to grab hold of slowly peel back the sticker at a sharp backwards angle. do not pull up vertically or you might bring the cover with the sticker. If paper residue starts peeling off either use the scraper again or re-wet the area with goo gone. Slow and steady!

Step 5: If there's any remaining residue wipe it with some more goo gone from the cotton and lightly scrape away or rub away with your finger (still wearing gloves).

I hope that helps! It would be a damn shame if any more people ruin their books because of the publishers dumb idea to put that sticker with such strong adhesive on the back.
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