The Book That Can't Be Read

Men have always tried to encode secrets, military communication, love letters, forbidden knowledge, and most secret text is eventually decoded, but among all of history's cryptic writings one stands out. It's the world's most mysterious book written by an unknown author in an odd alphabet and brilliantly illustrated with puzzling images. For centuries, it defies all attempts to unveil its secrets. Now, for the first time, experts analyze the ink, pigments and parchments of the Voynich Manuscript.

What secrets are hidden between these lines? Who wrote them and why? At the headquarters of the US Military Intelligence Service, experts succeeded in decoding Japan's so called Purple Code. William Frederick Friedman, the service's Director is one of the world's best cryptographers. For practice between jobs, Friedman and his team decode ancient cryptic texts. One by one, the codes are cracked, but one book, The Voynich Manuscript, stubbornly defies all attempts to decode it. Unnerved, the cryptographers give up. It's the only code they're unable to crack.

The roughly 200-page manuscript, with its strange symbols has been a mystery for decades. At the beginning of the 20th century, an antiques dealer from New York visits Villa Mondragone near Rome looking for precious books. His name is Wilfrid Voynich. Villa Mondragone is home to many historical texts from a Jesuit school. Wilfrid Voynich is allowed to inspect a trunk that comes from the estate of Athanasius Kircher, one of the most famous scholars of the 17th century.

Among various manuscripts, the trunk contains an unusual book. Voynich buys the manuscript, and for the rest of his life tries to decipher it. He dies without even coming close to a solution. After Voynich's death, the manuscript ends up at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. The library possesses a wealth of literary gems, but probably none as famous as the Voynich Manuscript. Rene Zandbergen is one of the leading experts on the Voynich Manuscript and has been working on it for years.

When Rene first saw an image of the page of the Voynich Manuscript, he immediately had the feeling this is something he can decipher, this is something he can read, but as the years went by, this turned out to be wrong, so he couldn't read it like so many other people before him.

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