The Codex Seraphinius

The Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini

There are many things that are probable inspirations for this book, but I will mostly focus on the ones that are readily available to me, which are mostly French and English media. Checking up on the possible Italian versions of such things may yield better results, but as those are not necessarily well-known genres of media outside their own countries, it may be difficult to research. I have little knowledge of what a typical Italian encyclopedia might be, but hopefully it should not be particularly different from local ones.

The writing

While probably the most common topic related to the Codex, there is probably much less to say on the writing than on most other topics. Many people have tried to decypher it, but according to both the author himself and the people who attempted it, the writing itself does not have any meaning.

There are obviously a few facts we can extract from it. There are multiple types of scripts in the book. The two main ones are apparently lower case and upper case cursive, both fairly similar to both Luigi Serafini's real writing style and more generally cursive as written in Italy and surrounding areas. There's a variety of diacritics on the letters, there are what appear to be punctuation marks, parenthesis, bolding, notations for listing elements, etc.

The other types of writing are mostly what appears to be mathematical notation. Part of it is what is probably the numbering system, which is found throughout the book, in a much more angular notation as the main text, while the rest seems to be for equations and other such things, mostly found in the physics chapter.

There are also a few foreign scripts.

General structure

Overall the book is structured like an encyclopedia, educational book or textbook, with sections on various broad topics

  1. Plants and agriculture
  2. Animals
  3. The little legs people
  4. Physics and chemistry
  5. Tools, machines and vehicles
  6. Broad perspectives on humans, both anatomical and their general behaviour
  7. A chapter more centered on cultural aspects, societies, history, geography, etc
  8. The writing system used in this book
  9. Foods and cooking
  10. Clothes and accessories
  11. Games, sports and entertainments
  12. Architecture

The Codex as an encyclopedia

The biggest influence of the Codex is that of encyclopedias, as it is the obvious purpose of the book. A lot of the art style, content, graphical conventions and layouts are either inspired by or subversions of encyclopedia illustrations.

Art style

Differing conventions

While it is likely that the Codex is meant to represent a much stranger world than our own, it is also partly possibly explained simply by different conventions in diagrams and symbolism.

Specific comparisons

A lot of illustrations and diagrams are very easily compared to common equivalents in encyclopedias.

Impossible objects

While not taking the majority of the book, most of the section on machines seems to be inspired by the 60's and 70's trend of objects with strange, overly elaborate or even impossible designs, such as the ones by Jacques Carelman.

Imaginary creatures

The animal section of the book seems similar to a lot of imaginary bestiaries of the era, such as


Last updated : 2021-09-22 12:09:23
Tags : linguistics , conlang