June 5, 2005

The 4th Codex

My friend, Mike Dringenberg introduced me to the Codex at a rare book shop in Salt Lake City, Utah. They had the original Italian version of the book, of which only 4,000 were made and signed by its creator, Luigi Serafini. These go for a lot of money in the rare book markets. One specimen from the original printing is listed currently on eBay for over $18,995, but who knows if he will get his price.

A quick search of the internet after I first saw it found the American version (one complete volume, not two shorter, better leather bound, volumes) online for sale in the $300 - $500 range. This was past what I was willing to pay. During trips to New York and othr cities, I'd visit rare book rooms to try to find it. I was never successful.

My wife loves thrift stores, and this week, she came home with both the Codex and another amazing find (A collection of David Goines prints), both for way lower than she ever expected to find either. The book was had for $25.

If you haven't seen the book, it is best, and often, described as an encyclopedia of another, strange, place. Word has it, that the book is in print again. I don't know if they use the same quality printing or paper. (The one I have is a very beautifully made book from the first American printing) I can't imagine them printing this book on crap paper though.

Why is the Codex so desireable? It isn't because of the difficulty of finding it. It is a remarkable book... complete revelatory nonsense. The pages, written in a language that some have attempted to decipher are filled with words and imagery (see here for some scans that do not do it justice) that are really amazing. Beautiful and evocative, they catalog a fanciful world, but one whose fancy, as it were, derives from our own. If you know me, you should ask to see it. Anyhow, back to work. The Summer of Code compels me :-) Thanks Christine, you're terrific! (as usual)

Oh, and in case you are wondering why the title "The 4th Codex", when I typed in "Codex" into Google, it was the 4th result returned.


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