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The Voynich Manuscript: The Mysterious Code That Has Defied Interpretation for Centuries Paperback – August 28, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1594771293 ISBN-10: 1594771294 Edition: 3rd Edition, First North American Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; 3rd Edition, First North American Edition edition (August 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594771294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594771293
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"If you think all languages have been deciphered, this manuscript offers up a challenge--and provides unique symbols leading to the possibility that it's a lost alchemical work." (Diane C. Donovan, California Bookwatch, Dec 2006)

From the Back Cover


Since its discovery by Wilfrid Voynich in an Italian monastery in 1912, the Voynich Manuscript has baffled scholars and cryptanalysts with its unidentifiable script and bizarre illustrations. Written in an unknown language or an as-yet undecipherable code, this medieval manuscript contains hundreds of illustrations of unknown plants, cosmological charts, and inexplicable scenes of naked “nymphs” bathing in a green liquid that some interpret as a symbolic depiction of human reproduction and the joining of the soul with the body.

Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill explore the mystery surrounding the Voynich Manuscript, examining the many existing theories about the possible authors of this work and the information it may contain. They trace the speculative history of the manuscript and reveal those who may be connected to it, including Roger Bacon, John Dee, Edward Kelley, and the Cathars. With the possibility that it may be a lost alchemical text or other esoteric work, this manuscript remains one of the most intriguing yet enigmatic documents ever to have come to light.

GERRY KENNEDY is a freelance writer and has produced a number of BBC Radio 4 programs, including one on the Voynich Manuscript in 2001. ROB CHURCHILL is a professional writer who has written scripts for many production companies, including the BBC and Thames Television. Both authors were consultants for the BBC/Mentorn Films documentary The Voynich Mystery. They live in London.

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Customer Reviews

Too bad, I was expecting a much better representation of the manuscript.
Full of well researched background info on all the major and minor characters, but ultimately left me empty, as I suppose is the conclusion of this whole mystery.
Despite my issues with the book, I really do think it's really good overall!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Amberart on February 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too bad, I was expecting a much better representation of the manuscript. Very few images and most of those are in black and white. I think this book is misrepresented as to its content. As an artist and botanist, I wanted to see the illustrations. However, they are almost totally absent in this book. As to the interpretations of the tedious.

Does anyone know of a publication that includes all of the painting, drawings and calligraphy?
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By S. K. Harrell VINE VOICE on July 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Literary adventurers pounce on the opportunity to become enchanted by mysterious codes, their origins and authors shrouded in secrecy. Such curiosities allow their readers to take up magnifying glasses and burn midnight oil, fancying themselves the one to provide decades-hidden insight. It is with such vigor that one approaches The Voynich Manuscript, by Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill. The authors deliver a thorough exploration of a potentially insightful Goddess-oriented manuscript against a paternalistic playground of men attempting to understand and exploit it. To that end, this book is more about the story of the key figures and life around the manuscript, than it is on providing a solid focus on decoding the codex, itself. Found in 1912 by Wilfrid Voynich, the legacy of the manuscript came under public scrutiny, where it remains still. Kennedy learned at the funeral of a family member that Voynich was a distant relative of his. Through that lens the introduction of the text is quite personal, though the book quickly progresses into academic detailing of the manuscript's supposed journey into the present.

Through many conjectures about the linguistic origins of the text and the possible influences of its outlandish astrological and horticultural illustrations, there is still little known about the origins of the manuscript. Cryptologists may enjoy the abundance of chapters devoted to the meticulous methods employed in attempting to decipher the code. More esoteric types may resonate with the scant pages lending it to being a written account of glossolalia (speaking in tongues), or the artful result of medieval mental illness. The authors even give rich exploration to the possibility that the manuscript is a hoax. Whatever impression readers take from the research behind this book about the Voynich Manuscript, without doubt they will have been impressed by the legacy and mystery of its path.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on June 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Voynich manuscript remains one of the most puzzling artifacts handed down to us from antiquity. It is in an unknown language, using an unknown script, and not so much as a word has been successfully translated (though many have tried). It is filled with whimsical illustrations of plants that cannot be identified, stars that do not exist, and astrological diagrams unlike anything seen elsewhere. It is also filled with drawings of naked women cavorting in vessels of green liquid for purposes which cannot be fathomed. The author is unknown, the date is unknown (although figured to be between 1250-1450), and how the manuscript came to be preserved for the past 650 years is also a mystery.

It has been suggested by some researchers, and the authors of this book tentatively agree, that the whole thing might be an elaborate Medieval fake. Yet the sheer magnitude of it -- 272 pages, 211 illustrations, 170,000 characters, all carefully arranged and consistently produced -- would seem to argue against that. Add to that the statistical analysis of the text, which indicates that it probably *is* a legitimate language, and you have a real puzzle on your hands.

Since so little has been gleaned from the manuscript itself, the authors take the reader on a tour through Medieval scholarship, alchemy, astrology, astronomy, religious history and cryptology (since many have speculated it could be in some kind of code). The lives of several of the proposed authors are studied, along with many people who may have had a hand in preserving it. Thus the book is about a lot more than the manuscript itself, and indulges in many fascinating digressions along the way.

In the end, the riddle remains unsolved.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S.W. on May 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book recently, and I must say I'm impressed. I found it to be very informative. However, I also have to say that it is lacking in the way photos of pages in the MS. The text and the drawings in the MS are discussed, but since the MS is so long and so "illustrated," it's disappointing that so few of the pages in the document are actually shown in this book. But this is still a really good book for what IS in it (or for most of what's in it), in my opinion.

The VMS is one of the most fascinating enigmas (if not THE most fascinating one) that I've become familiar with. Everything about it is mystifying. Who wrote it? Why did they write it? Is it in an "encrypted" natural language, or is it perhaps in a "made-up" language? Just exactly what is the significance of the many plants, of the mostly-naked females, and of the other strange imagery? Is the MS "mystical," or does it have some botanical or medical or religious significance? Do the text and the drawings really even have to do with each other? To this very day, the answers to these questions remain uncertain, though theories abound.

Since the publication of this book, the VMS has been carbon-dated and appears to have been created between 1403-1438, and so it seems unlikely that it's a hoax, as the book several times admits it may be --- and as one of the authors believed (believes?) it was (is?); one thing that's for sure is that it isn't a 20th-Century hoax perpetrated by Wilfrid Voynich himself (or for that matter, by anyone else). Thus, a good bit of what it is in the book is now outdated (most of that stuff is in the last two chapters). But most of it is still "contemporary.
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