The Voynich “Roger Bacon” manuscript secretspresumably magical or scientific and possibly containing a formula for an Elixir of Lifecontinue to defy deciphering efforts after almost four centuries, as this amazing history shows.
Bought about the year 1586 by the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, who had a keen interest in magic and science, the Voynich manuscript consists of some 200 pages, with many unusual anatomical, botanical, and astronomical illustrations. The work was thought to be that of Roger Bacon, the thirteenth-century English philosopher, who had a reputation for being a magician, and whom legend credited with discovery of an Elixir of Life.
The writing, presumably in cipher, defied decipherment by Rudolph’s scholars, and the manuscript passed in the eighteenth century from Prague to Rome, and in 1912 to America, when it was bought by Wilfrid Voynich, a rare-book dealer. In 1921, William R. Newbold claimed to have solved the cipher, but his claim was disputed by John M. Manly, who gave the manuscript the sobriquet “the most mysterious manuscript in the world.”
In the 1960s the manuscript was acquired by the Beinecke Rare Book Library, and Robert S. Brumbaugh, a philosopher at Yale who had served in military intelligence during World War II, became interested in it, and began what has turned out to be a decade of effort to unlock the secrets of the cipher. In the course of his investigations Brumbaugh brought together a collection of essays tracing the manuscript’s history, which form the basis of the present book.
Brumbaugh himself in 1972 identified the “alphabet” used in the cipher, and read plant and star labels, but the text has resisted application of the alphabet. Efforts to transcribe and decipher the manuscript continue, and this book is a contribution to the efforts to reveal the secrets of medieval science, philosophy, and linguistics still locked in “the world’s most mysterious manuscript.”
|Publisher:||Southern Illinois University Press|
|Edition description:||1st Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
Robert S. Brumbaugh, Professor of Philosophy, has been a member of the department at Yale since 1951.