randall wong

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Codex Seraphinianus

By now, much has been written about the Codex Seraphinianus. Despite the cult that has grown around the book, it is still an absolute masterpiece of an imagined(?) and eerily familiar world and lives up to its hype. Many attempts have been made to translate the script but, for me, that runs counter to the aesthetic and mystery of the unknown and unexplored.

The links with Borges, Calvino, Lear, et al, are well established. I also see a reflection of the 18th century European explorations of the Southern Hemisphere. Animal and plants were collected and catalogued in drawings and paintings. And take the case of the platypus- many European naturalists were convinced this was an elaborate taxidermical hoax. Is the platypus much less strange than the creatures collected in the Codex? Hardly.

Until recently this was an extremely expensive (as high as $1400 USD) and difficult book to obtain, but in 2006 it was reprinted in Italy and can still be purchased from some Italian booksellers. I've ordered a copy from www.internetbookshop.it who I've found utterly dependable when it comes to buying and shipping books from Italy. It closely follows the Amazon model so non-Italian readers easily negotiate the site. Now I'm going to own two copies; the new edition supposedly has "enriched and enlightened" additional material by the author, but that might just be press hype.
Two excellent Codex links:
  • Believer Magazine

  • John Coulthart: Another Green World

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