Books nobody can read

At The Book of Everyone we’re big fans of… well, books! We believe everyone deserves a personalised book with their name on it, and we’re on a mission to make it happen.

When we aren’t busy making our books as good as they can possibly be, we’re reading books and reading about them (except for our tech guys, who we voted to keep in a dark cupboard where reading is impossible).

We’re bonafide bibliophiles. New books, old books. Real books and not so real books. We even love books that no one can read.   

To prove it, here’s a list of some of our favourite books that can’t be read. There are books in code, books in languages nobody speaks anymore, and books that have simply vanished…

The Voynich Manuscript

Now technically, anyone can take a look at the Voynich Manuscript. The entire thing is available for free online. You can look at it, but the thing is you can’t actually read it.  

The manuscript is named after the Polish book dealer who bought it in 1912. It’s believed to have been written in the 15th century. Some people think it may have been written in Northern Italy but, apart from that, no one knows a lot about it. Especially not about what the manuscript’s contents mean.

It’s filled with text that’s proved so indecipherable that even the finest codebreakers in the world haven’t been able to make head nor tails of it. Accompanying the text are ink drawings of fantastical plants of unknown origin, astronomical and astrological charts, and naked – seemingly pregnant – women connected to tubes and capsules. All very weird.

There are several theories about the manuscript. Some believe it is a guide to herbs and plants, others believe that it is a medieval medical text, and then there are those who believe it’s a manual for witchcraft. We’ll just have to wait until some code cracking wizard works their magic.  

The Rohonc Codex

Another mysterious book from the depths of history, the Rohonc Codex is named after the Hungarian city in which it first came to light in the 19th century. Like the Voynich Manuscript, it’s written in an unknown language.

The codex features 87 illustrations of everyday life, military encounters, and religious practices and shows a culture in which Christian, Muslim, and pagan faiths coexist.  

The text has been studied by eminent scholars who’ve proposed that the language it’s written in is connected with Hungarian, Dacian, early Romanian, Cuman, and even Hindi. But so far there has been nothing to conclusively prove the case for any of these.

In fact, the common consensus amongst experts at the moment, is that the book is the work of a 19th century hoaxer.  

So, we don’t know what language it’s in, or what it’s about. We don’t even know if it’s real.

Homer’s Margites

Without Homer’s most famous works – the Iliad and the Odyssey – providing inspiration, we might never have been able to read classics like Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Joyce’s Ulysses, Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

But wouldn’t it be great to have one more story by Homer to read? And wouldn’t it be fascinating to read an early work too? Sadly, Margites was lost to history with only a few small fragments being reused elsewhere by Homer.

Written around 700 B.C. this epic comic poem is considered Homer’s first work. It tells the tale of its eponymous hero. The calamitously foolish Margites was said by Plato to know, “many things, and knew them all badly”.

In the ancient world, Margites was held in just as high esteem as Homer’s surviving masterpieces. Aristotle said that, “as are the Iliad and Odyssey to our tragedies, so is the Margites to our comedies”.

So, it must have been pretty good then.

There you have it, a few of the books we’d love to be able to read, but (probably) never will. Unless we get really good at cracking codes or building time machines (but for that we’d have to disturb the tech guys in their dark cupboard… so nevermind).

If all this reading about books has inspired you to create a masterpiece for someone in your life, then you can get started right here.

Don’t forget to tell us about your favourite books in the comments!

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