hunting the codex

Hmmmm…it appears the Codex Seraphinianus is no longer publically viewable on flickr. Unsurprising as that would have been a flagrant disregard for copyright.

One thing I hate about some online retailers is that it’s sometimes hard to find out the shipping cost until after you’ve entered your credit card information. Many sites will have shipping guides somewhere though it gets trickier when dealing in a language you don’t know. I did discover a place online that was selling the 2006 edition for 75 euros but on clicking through discovered they wanted to charge 44 euros for shipping for a total of around AUD$200. I think I managed to cancel that order in time, with lots of flicking back and forth between the site and babelfish. I’ve since found it via another retailer (with an english display) and looking forward to seeing the book arrive in a few weeks.


A sense of who I am remains submerged; personality buried. I am always surrounded by the books of others, rarely by my own. The house I inhabit, the place I call home, the place that is home, is full of my dad’s books, numbered around 3,000. My own books are mostly in boxes, the majority beneath my bed. I delve rarely as I know not what box has which books. Seeking desired titles can be a fruitless undertaking. Earlier this week I gave it another go ans struck gold. In every box I opened I found volumes that warmed my heart. Interestingly it was the nonfiction, mostly, that struck me. I found amongst other things:

I even found both my copies of Solaris, at long last I may get to read it. I’d bought a second forgetting I had it already, then lost both of them in the packing. Finding books is sort of like finding memories and a little chunk of me has returned.

lusting after the oed

I have said on many an occasion that I would dearly love to own a full set of the printed OED, dear though it is. There is a CDROM version that, while expensive, is substantially cheaper than the print. But it must be said, that it is the print which I desire most. At MPOW I recently re-organised the shelf-space near the computer and bought in a couple of old books from home including an elderly edition (1976) of The concise Oxford dictionary of current English. I’m now using the print edition daily as it is at arm’s length, and seemingly quicker to use than online. I’d become increasingly frustrated using online dictionaries as the free access I have doesn’t include a browse option ie if I don’t get the spelling quite right, I get a “word not found” result and naught else. The print edition allows me to browse and explore. Of course, the full 20 volume OED would not be so easily accessible as the single volume I have at work. It is is however a boon to comfortable exploration. I have worked in libraries that have the full OED, including a law library that had them lined up on a shelf directly behind the reference desk. Interestingly, work on the next edition, the third, was due to be completed for publication in 2010; alas it’s now unlikely to appear on the shelves before 2037 and will expand to 40 volumes containing 980,000 words.

bookish pursuits

I love books. It took many years to break a habit of compulsive collectivitis – I could never walk into a bookshop and walk out without purchasing a book. Even though I read far fewer books than I used to, for several years I continued to buy at the same rate. When I was living at my mother’s house, I had a bookcase devoted solely to books waiting to be read. So too, I like completing sets and generally seeking out all books by authors that appeal; I also like hardcovers and nicely bound editions. I’m fond of leather, rice paper, and slipcases. Quality binding is a thing to be admired. There is an argument that can be made for buying less books but of a higher quality, though it’s one I’d prefer not to make given my addiction.

It is with such thoughts in mind that I have chanced upon mentions of an esoteric tome, published nearly 30 years ago, the Codex Seraphinianus. This strikes me as a fascinating thing, full of mystery and beauty. Indecipherable yet intriguing. Various editions have been published ranging in value from 100 or so euros through to US$4,000 for one of the original editions. Much has been written on it, and it appears that many, if not all its pages have been scanned and loaded into flickr. [update: it seems to have been removed from public viewing] Once one starts such explorations there seems to be no end, further study revealed a much older book, also impenetrable, the Voynich manuscript.