Posts filed under “Books & Literature”


The Voynich Manuscript, that wonderfully imaginative botanical treatise whose author, not content with drawing imaginary plants, used imaginary language to describe them, is available in high-resolution scans at the Internet Archive.

It is impossible to improve upon the Voynich Manuscript itself, of course. It is unique; it could not have been improved if someone had strapped Dr. Seuss into a time machine and sent him back six hundred years. But Dr. Boli would really like to draw your attention to the “reviews” on the page. Almost every single one has solved the wonderful mystery and unlocked the code, revealing that the manuscript is a treatise on women’s health, a message from the stars, a book of hallucinogenic herbs; the language proves to be proto-Romance, Berber, Scots Gaelic, Macedonian, one of the Landa scripts of Punjab, Syriac, Russian, or Arabic or Farsi or Greek (the reviewer seems to regard these three as more or less interchangeable).

The definiteness of the statements is wonderfully reassuring. Almost every reviewer has found the only possible solution to the puzzle.

“The Book basically describes transpeicies migration. How Fauna based life form migrate from plant to animal – e.i. human life forms.”

“Much of the text is a list of overwhelmingly Finno-Uralic names with some Dutch, Danish, French, and German tossed in now and then.”

“This is the first five books of King James. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Even though this was wrote 200 years prior.” (For the depth of erudition it displays, this is probably Dr. Boli’s favorite.)

“The algorithm is written on page 116. There is written the at Czech language. Have you found ( algorithm)!!!”

“If you study the history of Landa languages. The character hiding and mixing still happens in business communities in remote villages in Multan in Pakistan, to this day. Please widen your knowledge as I have detailed as much as possible, There is no alternative to this, because this is the truth. All the researchers so far have guessed and fooled public. I want to emphasis this again ‘English does not have these sounds’.”

“completely readable. If one backs up from trying to crack its language you can see that its in three different languages.. one is picture language, 2nd is plant language and third is most important, it is star constellations language.. Its actually telling you a story you are not ready to here..its repeating the same message on every page too..”

You will spend an hour reading these reviews, but it will be an hour well spent. You will know nothing more than you already knew about the Voynich Manuscript, of course, but you will know a great deal more about human psychology than you knew before.


The answer to yesterday’s literary puzzle: the illustration advertises H. G. Wells’ Outline of History, one of the most popular books of the early twentieth century—perhaps because its publishers knew a thing or two about promoting historical works.


This illustration, by the well-known DeAlton Valentine, was commissioned for a magazine advertisement. It was promoting a book, and your task, dear readers, is to guess what book. Dr. Boli will give you the hint that it was a very popular book by a very famous author; and, if it helps, he will even reveal the headline of the advertisement:

Akhn-Aton was human

Can you guess, without going to the Wikimedia Commons page where the image is hosted (because that will give away the source, of course) or resorting to Google’s massive artificial-intelligence empire, what book this image was advertising?


Looked at in a certain way, it might be discouraging to Dr. Boli that some of the most popular articles he has ever published have not been the ones he took such infinite care to write himself, but his random collections of type specimens with curiously surreal texts. Looked at in another way, it might be heartening to have discovered a quick way of pleasing the masses of readers while one is working on larger projects. These specimens all come from one catalogue, an 1895 specimen book of the Cleveland Type Company.