The Friar and the Cipher

The Friar and the Cipher

Roger Bacon and the Unsolved Mystery of the Most Unusual Manuscript in the World

Book - 2005
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A compulsively readable account of the most mysterious manuscript in the world, one that has stumped the world's greatest scholars and codebreakers.

The Voynich Manuscript, a mysterious tome discovered in 1912 by the English book dealer Wilfrid Michael Voynich, has puzzled scholars for a century. A small six inches by nine inches, but over two hundred pages long, with odd illustrations of plants, astrological diagrams, and naked women, it is written in so indecipherable a language and contains so complicated a code that mathematicians, book collectors, linguists, and historians alike have yet to solve the mysteries contained within. However, in The Friar and the Cipher , the acclaimed bibliophiles and historians Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone describe, in fascinating detail, the theory that Roger Bacon, the noted thirteenth-century, pre-Copernican astronomer, was its author and that the perplexing alphabet was written in his hand. Along the way, they explain the many proposed solutions that scholars have put forth and the myriad attempts at labeling the manuscript's content, from Latin or Greek shorthand to Arabic numerals to ancient Ukrainian to a recipe for the elixir of life to good old-fashioned gibberish. As we journey across centuries, languages, and countries, we meet a cast of impassioned characters and case-crackers, including, of course, Bacon, whose own personal scientific contributions, Voynich author or not, were literally and figuratively astronomical.

The Friar and the Cipher is a wonderfully entertaining and historically wide-ranging book that is one part The Code Book , one part Possession , and one part The Da Vinci Code --and will appeal to bibliophiles and laypeople alike.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday : c2005.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780767914734
Branch Call Number: 091 GOL
Characteristics: xi, 320 p., [8] p. of col. plates : ill. (some col.), ports. ; 22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Goldstone, Nancy Bazelon


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Nov 01, 2015

A little while ago I heard about the Voynich manuscript, a medieval document in a language no one has ever been able to translate. I wanted to learn more about this manuscript so I got this book.

This book was a disappointment. It isn't really about the Voynich manuscript at all, and instead spends 200 pages talking about the relationship between Aristotle's philosophy and Christianity, as well as as the history of education in Europe. This book is confusing and has no sense of organization, and I would say that the wikipedia article for "Voynich Manuscript" is more informative than this book.

Aug 08, 2014

A good story, marred by factual errors and typos. Too many places where they were obviously careless about research.

Apr 09, 2011

my suggestion is take notes who is who and belongs where. it's impossible to keep track of so many historical figures. this book gives you an idea what dark ages really were. first part was about history from Socrates to 13 century.

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