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June 30, 2004

Voynich Manuscript

More on the Voynich Manuscript as a new analysis "suggests that it contains nothing but gibberish".

Critics of this hypothesis have argued that Voynichese is too complex to be nonsense. How could a medieval hoaxer produce 230 pages of script with so many subtle regularities in the structure and distribution of the words? But I have recently discovered that one can replicate many of the remarkable features of Voynichese using a simple coding tool that was available in the 16th century. The text generated by this technique looks much like Voynichese, but it is merely gibberish, with no hidden message. This finding does not prove that the Voynich manuscript is a hoax, but it does bolster the long-held theory that an English adventurer named Edward Kelley may have concocted the document to defraud Rudolph II. (The emperor reportedly paid a sum of 600 ducats--equivalent to about $50,000 today--for the manuscript.)

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 30, 2004 08:35 AM

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Comments

Interesting.

The only thing that surprises me is that Neal Stephenson didn't manage to work to Voynich Manuscript into Quicksilver at some point...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 3, 2004 10:02 AM

Agreed. And I'm halfway through The Confusion, and it's not there either. But the final book could hold it. Then again, he's pretty focused on certain personalities; it's not like he does the Vinland Map either, so he's obviously being selective about what medieval nonsense he chooses to play on; there's more than you might think - and it's obviously NOT the Eco/Pynchon/Illuminati stuff he chooses to follow - except in a very oblique, strictly historical way. Then again Quicksilver was remarkable for how much of the truly important action was completely offstage... Or put in another way, he takes Pynchon's Slothrop and re-examines his Picaresque origins, via Jack Shaftoe, in a very knowing, non-explicit way.

Spoon, I wish you were Kiboesque at this moment for the benefit of your comment. Kibo, I'll gladly accept yours, though I'll still hold out hope for Spoon's. Meantime: Boris, Gray Album, "it's all 'good'".

Posted by: JT at July 31, 2004 11:22 PM