They say you should write what you know. If that’s the case, I would love to be a fly on the wall of these author’s brains while they were writing these books. While you can sometimes lay blame to the passage of time for being able to render the most mundane into the most bizarre, I don’t think there was ever a time when the majority of the books on this list were considered “normal”. Suffice it to say, I don’t think we’ll find any of these on the New York Time’s Best Seller’s List anytime soon.
Here are 6 of the strangest and most weird books ever written.
1. The Book Of Soyga
On March 10, 1552, mathematician John Dee had a conversation with an angel. As a firm believer in both science and the occult, Dee’s life straddled the line between reality and the spirit world. He had already amassed the largest library in London, but it was the anonymous Book of Soyga to which he devoted his most attention.
The book was a conundrum—over 40,000 letters covered its pages, but they were arranged in a haphazard fashion that made little sense. As Dee worked tirelessly to translate the code, he slowly realized that the Soyga was an in-depth list of magical incantations. The biggest mystery of all was contained in the last 36 pages. Each page was devoted to a table of letters—a code which Dee never managed to crack. So he decided to go beyond our world for the answer.
On a trip to continental Europe, Dee enlisted the help of a spiritual medium to summon the Archangel Uriel. Dee opened the conversation by asking if the book meant anything. Uriel replied that the Book of Soyga had been given to Adam in the Garden of Eden. When Dee asked for help translating the tables, Uriel replied that he didn’t have the necessary clearance; only Archangel Michael knew the secret.
Dee never managed to reach Michael, and after his death, the book was lost for nearly 500 years. There are now two known copies of the Book of Soyga—one in the British Library and one in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The code is still unsolved.
2. Codex Seraphinianus
Written in a language that no one understands and filled with illustrations of surreal, impossible things, Codex Seraphinianus is possibly the strangest encyclopedia in the world. When Italian architect Luigi Serafini published the book in 1981, he presented it as a factual, scientific work. One look at the outlandish potpourri of images, however, reveals that Codex Seraphinianus is anything but scientific.
The entire book is handwritten, and the illustrations are all hand drawn and colored by Serafini himself, a task that he labored over for two years. Scholars have spent years trying to decipher the book, but the only thing we’ve figured out is that “Seraphinianus” is just a variation of Serafini’s name. As for the book’s language, the “alphabet” has about two dozen characters, and relates to absolutely nothing else humanity has ever created.
3. The Story Of The Vivian Girls
The entire time Henry Darger was working as a janitor in downtown Chicago, nobody knew that he was secretly writing one of the most bizarre and intricate storybooks of all time. When he died in 1973, Darger’s landlord discovered a 15,000-page manuscript entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.
The book was immense, a sprawling epic composed of more than nine million words and over 300 watercolor illustrations, most of which were made by juxtaposing images from magazines and newspapers and tracing over them. Some of the final illustrations were laid out on massive sheets of paper over 3 meters (10 ft) wide. Nobody really knows how long Darger worked on the book, although it’s believed to have been decades. He lived in the same cramped, single-room apartment for over 40 years, and he never spoke a word of his lifelong dream to anybody.
4. Prodigiorum Ac Ostentorum Chronicon
Otherwise known as the Chronicle of Portents and Prophecies, this book was written in 1557 by the French humanist Conrad Lycosthenes. Laid out like an encyclopedia, the book transcribes otherworldly happenings since the time of Adam and Eve. But while the encyclopedic Codex Seraphinianus was a book of fantasy, Lycosthenes’s Chronicle was relatively factual—at least in the sense that it covered actual reports. Sandwiched in between well-documented disasters, floods, and meteor showers (including Halley’s comet) are descriptions of sea monsters, UFOs, and various biblical themes.
The Chronicle was incredibly detailed and contained over 1,000 original woodcut illustrations of the phenomenon described. There are still several copies floating around, usually on rare book websites, where they sell for several thousands of dollars.
5. The Rohonc Codex
One of the most mysterious books in existence today is a work known as the Rohonczi Codex, commonly spelled Rohonc Codex. Not only do we not know what it says, we also have no idea where it comes from. In the early 19th century, the manuscript was donated to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in the city of Rohonc, but that’s where the trail tapers off.
One of the reasons the Rohonc Codex has remained undecyphered for so long is its apparent alphabet. Most alphabets have somewhere between 20 and 40 characters, making it relatively easy to start replacing coded symbols with letters. The Rohonc Codex has nearly 200 separate symbols in its 448 pages, and no matter how many scholars take a crack at it, nobody can agree on a translation, let alone a general geographic area where it might have been written. Guesses range from Hungary to Romania to India.
It’s such an impressive code that scholars in the 19th century concluded that it had to be a hoax, although these days it’s believed to be genuine. If you want to take a crack at it, you can access all the pages online.
6. Voynich manuscript
The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The vellum in the book pages has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912.
The pages of the codex are vellum. Some of the pages are missing, but about 240 remain. The text is written from left to right, and most of the pages have illustrations or diagrams.
The Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II. No one has yet succeeded in deciphering the text, and it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography. The mystery of the meaning and origin of the manuscript has excited the popular imagination, making the manuscript the subject of novels and speculation. None of the many hypotheses proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified. Many people have speculated that the writing might be nonsense.
Contributing Source: Andrew Handley and Wikipedia