21st Century Voynich Manuscript


In 1939, Jorge Luis Borges wrote a short story called "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote". The original text is Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote. In it, a French author decided to write Don Quixote, the same book, word for word, that Miguel de Cervantes wrote centuries earlier. Borges explains that, although Menard could have achieved the same effect by just transcribing the text, or by becoming a method actor who immersed himself in 16th century Spanish culture and lived the life of Cervantes, he chose neither of those options. Instead, he decided to write Don Quixote as a 20th century work, which is considerably more difficult.

I have followed in the footsteps of Pierre Menard and reproduced the Voynich Manuscript as a 21st Century work. I too could have simply transcribed the manuscript, or lived the life of a 15th century alchemist (or whatever métier the author of the manuscript had), but I chose instead to write it as a 21st century work. The Voynich Manuscript text was analysed, and the new text generated, using a program written in Emblem, a dialect of Lisp. The new text is different, but has all the important statistical properties of the original. Writing in oak gall ink on the skin of a dead calf, and painting amateurish pictures of herbs and naked women is not for me, though. Instead, my Voynich Manuscript is a web page, with digital photographs.

Here it is: the 21st Century Voynich Manuscript.


© Copyright Donald Fisk, autor del Voynich 2017