A rare and expensive work, first published in 1981 the Codex Seraphinianus, is an artistically illustrated abstract encyclopedia of mystical and imaginary with copious hand-drawn, colored-pencil illustrations of bizarre and fantastical floral and fauna, anatomies, fashions, and foods. . To this day it remains a complete enigma to linguists, all of whom have been unable to identify or make sense of the alphabet used to construct its otherworldly tale. However the number system used for numbering the pages, has been cracked (apparently independently) by Allan C. Wechsle and Bulgarian linguist Ivan Derzhanski.
Who created this book?
This is the work of Luigi Serafini who is an Italian artist/designer. It took him around 30 months to start and complete the Codex during 1976 and 1978. When asked about the syntax used in the book, he replied by saying that much of it was the result of ‘automatic writing’, that he wanted to recreate that same feeling children experience when they see books they cannot yet read, but have a vague understanding of what the words might allude to.
Copies are certainly hard to come by, but thankfully you can download the entire work in PDF format here. In the meantime here’s a sneak peek inside one of the most mysterious and inspiring books in a generation…