Saturday, 10 May 2008

Voynich novels latest...

A couple of emails just in from Voynich novelists: it's so much nicer to hear about stuff before it happens, rather than haphazardly 6+ months later (sadly the de facto standard for the Internet).

Firstly, Richard Douglas Weber writes to tell me that his Voynich novel is now very well advanced, and that (though I'm exaggerating a tad) it has a VMs-related plot device that will hopefully jolt me out of my novel-reading seat. I'm really looking forward to this!
(As an aside, the last thing that nearly made me choke on my own intestines with surprise was the "canape" sequence in the "Ali G Indahouse" movie. But perhaps I should say no more about that, aiii...)

Richard came to the Voynich Manuscipt sideways while researching a Dee/Kelly/Enochian writing project, but which then got stalled. When it later restarted, the Dee/Kelly angle got dropped while the VMs took centre stage. Unlike many "Voynichologists" out there (*sigh*), he had taken the time to read Mary D'Imperio's "Elegant Enigma" (good for him!), though he felt it only really amounted to "a long rehash of everything that was conjectured"... (errrm, it's not that long, is it?) All of which is fair enough: we'll all have to wait for his final book to see what angle he takes on the VMs...

I should say that though D'Imperio affects impartiality, if you read "Elegant Enigma" carefully, you can find quite a few places where her actual opinion of the VMs sneaks in. I think it is the structure of Voynichese that particularly fascinated her, the siren singing that pulled her ship toward the manuscript. For example, on p.11 she writes of its "architectonic ... quality", and that "I gain a persistent impression of the presence of rules and relationships, a definite structure with its own "logic", however erratic and bizarre it might appear when compared to present-day concepts. The intricate compound forms in the script and its matter-of-fact, rather austere style all confirm this impression of craftsmanlike and logical construction in my mind", before going on to describe the "persistent tectonic element of style in the drawings." This basic idea recurs on p.16 and elsewhere.

Secondly, Bill Walsh emailed with news of his own Voynich-homage novel with a supernatural twist. It wouldn't be fair to say more than that at this early stage - even in these electronic times, getting from pitch to draft to agent to publisher to marketing to production to retailer to reader is as slow (and tricky) as it was a century ago. But having now seen some of his writing (which I found sparky and enjoyable), I really wish him the very best luck in taking it further.

Finally, I've just picked up a copy of A.W.Hill's 'Stephan Raszer' novel "Enoch's Portal" (2001), which allegedly has its own supernatural take on the Voynich Manuscript. I'll post a review here once I've imbibed its intriguing mix of "visionary doses of Renaissance magic, Kabbalah and sacramental sex" (according to the back cover, anyway)...

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