In 1981, a peculiar book was published under the name Codex Seraphinianus. This translates from Latin into “Serafani’s book,” referring to its creator, Italian artist and designer Luigi Serafini. Serafini’s 360-page-long book (sometimes divided into two volumes) was full of strange, dream-like sketches accompanied by text in what appears to be a made-up, squiggly alphabet. AbeBooks describes it:
Essentially an encyclopedia about an alien world that clearly reflects our own, each chapter appears to deal with key facets of this surreal place, including flora, fauna, science, machines, games and architecture. It’s difficult to be exact because no-one has ever understood the contents page.
Philologists and lay readers alike viewed the book’s code as a challenge, but over the years, everyone who tried failed to decipher the text. Only the page number system has ever been worked out.
Today, original editions of the Codex sell for up to $2,000. But thanks to a thriving underground fan base, the Codex is now being revived, with new printings on sale for $125, New York Magazine reports. In an interview with Dangerous Minds, Serafini’s publicist said that the new version will include two chapters of new drawings and a 22-page “Decodex” that explains how Serafini envisioned the work, including “the crucial help he had in this from a white cat.”
The Decodex will not, however, provide answers about what the Codex actually means. Serafani seems to doubt anyone ever will crack that puzzle, precisely because he insists that it means nothing. “The writing of the Codex is a writing, not a language, although it conveys the impression of being one. It looks like it means something, but it does not,” he said several years back, according to New York. For fans, however, even the author’s assurance that the language is meaningless is not a reliable enough reason to stop them from trying to extract the Codex’s secrets.
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