Bibliomania

The annual Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair is going on this weekend, and as usual Lisa and I are minding the Bauman Rare Books booth.

During setup on Friday, I was reminded once again that at the high end of the rare-book market, there is no genre snobbery. This year’s Bauman offerings include first editions of Kipling and Flaubert, a Le Morte d’Arthur illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley, and signed letters by Hemingway and Golda Meir (the latter typed in Hebrew), but also signed firsts of Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (both sold within a few hours of yesterday’s opening) and William Shatner’s handwritten treatment for a Star Trek episode that was never produced (still available as of this posting). And then there’s my favorite item, an Apollo training manual signed by Buzz Aldrin, Fred Haise, and Tom Stafford:

I’d buy this myself, but at $2500 it’s just a little out of my price range. I did, however, burn a rather large hole in my wallet to obtain a pristine first American edition of the Codex Seraphinianus. Woot!

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2 Responses to Bibliomania

  1. ldrake says:

    You burnt a hole in your wallet for a book you cannot read…..

    hehe, ain’t that just like you. Or like Neal Stephenson for that matter – he’s probably the other author in the world so fascinated with codebreaking that he owns his own copy 🙂 Or wasw it the illustrations that captured you?

    I like the idea though. This has to be the result of a creative pressure that someone just felt they had to release as it’s commercial possibilities were probably pretty nil. Either that or the pictures were the point and the text truly is gibberish (except for the numbering system). The fact that the numbering system is cracked though, does lead one to believe that he wrote it in a fabricated language. Since it was written in the 70’s do you think maybe he used early personal computers to create the translations for him and then transcribed it?

    • Matt Ruff says:

      I think the main attraction of the Codex, for me, is the concept of an “alien encyclopedia.” The thought that the script might actually mean something is also intriguing, but if it is some kind of cipher the plaintext would presumably be in Italian, which I still can’t read. So that aspect doesn’t draw me as much as it would if Serafini were an English artist. (I will have to show it to Neal, though.)

      Of course I’m already thinking that it’d be cool to have a facsimile of the Voynich Manuscript to go with it…

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