Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Codex Seraphinianus” as Want to Read:
Codex Seraphinianus
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Codex Seraphinianus

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  3,183 ratings  ·  346 reviews
An extraordinary and surreal art book, this edition has been redesigned by the author and includes new illustrations. Ever since the Codex Seraphinianus was first published in 1981, the book has been recognized as one of the strangest and most beautiful art books ever made. This visual encyclopedia of an unknown world written in an unknown language has fueled much debate o ...more
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Rizzoli (first published 1981)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Codex Seraphinianus, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Douglas Summers-Stay It's completely unreadable on Kindle or off! It's written in a made-up language. But personally I would get a hardcopy if you can possibly find one th…moreIt's completely unreadable on Kindle or off! It's written in a made-up language. But personally I would get a hardcopy if you can possibly find one that's affordable. You would have a hard time making out the details on a Kindle.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,183 ratings  ·  346 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Codex Seraphinianus
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine that Stepan Chapman, M.C. Escher, Albrecht Durer, and Salvador Dali were locked in an underground dungeon with an infinite amount of art supplies and only LSD to eat. Suddenly, a wayward creator-god shows up with a genetic splicer set to randomize the mixing of species and common objects, creating before the artists a set of real-life models from which they might take inspiration.

Codex Seraphinianus is a natural history of the surreal, a book that truly defies categorization. It is remi
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
This a weird art book. And by weird, I mean extremely weird. o.O



Nandakishore Mridula
This book is a dream come true... literally. Ever since I saw it once on "world's weirdest books" list, I have wanted to possess it: however, the fact that it was very difficult to get hold of a copy and even if one was found, the price would very well drive it out of my reach forced me keep it on a very remote wishlist. Until Liz provided me with a pdf copy. Thanks, Liz!

It would be wrong to say that I have read Codex Seraphinianus - I haven't. In fact, nobody other than the author has. It is wr
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2015
Remember that time when dad was in the military and he was stationed at Area 51. And he got transferred to that alien planet. And we had to go to live there for like three years. And we had to learn their language at the school. And the writing was some kind of weird calligraphy. And we got that science book with all those weird drawings in it. Well now you can buy that book on Amazon.
Dave Schaafsma
May 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an art book, oversized, with a fantastical premise: To appear like an encyclopedia of the unknown world, the imaginarium, complete with invented language. A work of immense ambition and kind of breath-taking scope, it is sort of like if Jim Woodring and Charles Burns and 40 fantasy artists combined to create this volume of amazing and strange creatures . . . only Serafini did it all, all by his lonesome. Originally published in 1981, it was re-released in 2013. And it's impressive. And s ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If the answer's not in here, you're asking the wrong question. ...more
Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜
This book is the epitome of surreal. This book is also one of the damn coolest things I've had the honor of looking at. I'm so glad I own this. It wasn't cheap to get so this book ain't going nowhere! They charge over $500 for this book at Powell's!

So what's the plot of the book?

Ayyyyy...cheldkfifk I dunno.

Just imagine if you saw the Voynich manuscript and with a shot of LSD, created the brainchild of H.P Lovecraft, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Frieda Kahlo, the Necronomicon itself,
Jeena Mary Chacko
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
OH-MY-GOD. I could trip on this book for an eternity. It is the most exquisite, weirdest and amazing book I've ever come across.

I could only get a PDF of this book, but going through it was like suddenly soaring up to a new level of awareness, of aesthetics, of pure beauty. It is splendidly incoherent, but buried deep within its exquisite babble is an almost terrifying understanding, a glimpse into something that we are yet to attain, a disturbing, tantalizing truth half-revealed. What makes th
Emm - "That Book You Like is Coming Back in Style"
Dreamscape compatible, human-friendly Earth literature. Mostly.
Codex is a homegrown, hand-drawn field guide to somewhere we can see from afar in the little corners of our eyes but never reach. Rings of blood become ladybugs, every insect, mammal and metal are all born from flowers, and most importantly - carrots can be siphoned out of potatoes. Marvelous.

Unlike its inter-species ancestor, The Voynich Manuscript, which was clearly written by an alien for aliens, Codex tastes better with lentils a
ds white
May 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually found a copy of this for a steal. The little shop had no idea what it is worth and as I read through it I have to wonder why it is worth so much. Albeit, it is a strange title and comforting in it's maddness. It is kind of like being on peyote. If James Joyce and M.C. Escher had a child at Rod Serlings home under the direction of L. Ron Hubbard. Difficult to find a copy of this under five-hundred dollars, so I feel very fortunate to have found it at a reasonable book price. However, I w ...more
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My entire experience with this book involves flipping to a random page and thinking "whoa...weird." I find this greatly rewarding, but others might not. ...more
Adriana Scarpin
Take that, Acre boy!
Douglas Summers-Stay
క కా కి కీ కు కూ కృ కౄ కౢ కౣ కె కే కై కొ కో కౌ కఁ కం కః క్
ఖ ఖా ఖి ఖీ ఖు ఖూ ఖృ ఖౄ ఖౢ ఖౣ ఖె ఖే ఖై ఖొ ఖో ఖౌ ఖఁ ఖం ఖః ఖ్
No one can read the Codex Seraphinianus: at best you can leaf through it, uncomprehending but with a continual feeling of discovery. The most similar work is probably the Voynich Manuscript. It is an encyclopedia of a unknown world in an unknown language, in a script that resembles a kind of cursive Telugu. The copy I have is doubly mysterious. It is a color printout of a poorly sc
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In his essay, "Codex Seraphinianus, Hallucinatory Encyclopedia," Peter Schwenger (specialist in liminal literature) writes: "To name things and to classify them are ways of bringing them into focus, both visually and as objects of knowledge; but the Codex brings into focus naming and classifications themselves, and implicitly reveals their systems of order to be hallucinatory." Schwenger thus suggests that systematizing and classifying are themselves illusory (i.e. subjective) endeavors. The art ...more
Jacob Overmark
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well, I did not exactly "read" it ... did anyone? ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
A work of art. I think.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you'd like a bewildering encounter with an alien culture, the Codex Seraphinianus is the book for you. It’s an encyclopaedia of an imaginary world written in a fully incomprehensible language and illustrated with detailed, coloured drawings that cover all areas of life: flora, fauna, science, manufacturing, alien (humanoid) anatomy, history and ethnography, dining and fashion, and architecture.

As the act of understanding words will be limited, here is a taster of visual delights that await yo
Erik F.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impenetrable and nearly indescribable. What a creation! Like some lost Da Vinci notebook (if old Leonardo had been fond of LSD), it is filled with imaginative and intricately detailed drawings of strange machines, inventions, buildings, mutations, and charts categorizing otherworldly flora and fauna — all "explained" by lengthy paragraphs of an incomprehensible "Voynich Manuscript"-esque code. Is Serafini from another galaxy? An alternate universe? I almost believe so. Regardless, this is certai ...more
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If we intercepted Wikipedia entries from another planet they would look something like this. Good for evoking a sense of alien-ness and incomprehensibility.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fucking drugs, even more so than Ernst's Une Semaine de Bonté. Read this and you'll be high as space junk. Black Moth Super Rainbow is the perfect soundtrack for this shit. ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this book feels like discovering an entirely new world which is amazing because everything here is something that we have seen before combined to make you feel a surreal, disturbingly joyous experience. it is something that was never meant to be fully understood but somehow, it gives you a clearer idea of how our semi evolved simian brain will probably never be able to comprehend the culture of beings from another planets. it's kinda terrifying and yet somehow, wondrous too. ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CODEX SERAPHINIANUS is a bizarre but enormously inventive work by the Italian artist Luigi Serafini, first published in 1981. Over 300 pages handwritten in a completely unintelligible script (which, like the Voynich Manuscript that probably inspired it, may not even be decipherable), the Codex seems to be an encyclopedia about the Earth of a parallel dimension, where human beings like us exist, but with entirely different cultures and surrounded by alien flora and fauna. This is the graphic equi ...more
A Not-So-Sacred Text For Those Who Believe In The Primacy Of Imagination

This book really is as special as it was purported to be. There are a great many art books out there, art monographs that collect the paintings and photographs of an artist or group of artists. Some are even linked by a very specific theme, or setting, or models/characters, to give the monograph a more cohesive feel. The Codex Seraphinianus, however, is something different. Every page, every illustration, every alien glyph,
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well, you know, not so much reading as "reading"

It feels strange to mark this book as "read" when no language interface of any kind actually happened. (I guess it's still better than listing my coloring books.)

Having looked through the whole thing, I'm actually more intrigued and baffled by it than before. Apparently the language is asemic, so it's all about the pictures. At least one image has its source in a text, but I have neither the knowledge nor the patience to track down the various ant
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone, dead or alive
an encyclopedia of a fabricated world grossly more interesting than our own. in a made-up language. gorgeous, with a penchant for quasi-shroomy conceptual linkages (two people having sex turns into a crocodile slithering off a bed); fairly amazing, if you can get your hands on it. i recommend inter-library loan. if you're a jerk, you can keep it and just pay the loss fee; it's really out of print. ...more
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This freakin' book is an act of God.
Everyone needs to sit with this for a few hours.
There is nothing else like it in the world.
My copy set me back a good sum, but it's worth it.
I could sit here an try and type out a notion of what this books about
but any description I could come up with would fall
flat. One just needs to see the Codex.
Chumbert Squurls
There are no other books like the Codex Seraphinianus nor will there ever be. The insane genius that wrote this book was obviously a prophet being told a travel guide by otherworldly visitor. This book puts a crack in the monotony of modern life. Read and be amazed.
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whoa. Bizarre, gorgeous, beautiful, insane. Another league. I'd give it 10 stars plus a crocodile. ...more
Alan D'Souza
Jun 11, 2021 rated it did not like it
This book clearly draws more than some inspiration from the Voynich Manuscript. It was the primary reason I decided to pick this book up. I was interested in seeing if the author was trying to make a statement on the original manuscript that has continued to rile antiquarians and code breakers alike who've obsessed over its 'actual meaning'.

Was Luigi Serafini trying to mock those obsessed with the 'mysterious' manuscript by creating a mockup that might become it's own mystery in the future? Was
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, fantasy, art
It's a little misleading to say I "read" this, as it is written in an invented and probably meaningless script. This book has been described as the strangest book in the world, an encyclopedia from another world, and hoax of staggering ambition. Previous editions of his book are collector's items, as it has usually been published in tiny, expensive runs where each copy costs hundreds of dollars.

I finally got my hands on the first mass-market edition through a library loan and it is incredible (b
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
do you own this book? 4 99 Aug 18, 2012 06:13AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Une Semaine de Bonté
  • The Voynich Manuscript
  • Art Forms in Nature
  • The End of the World
  • Ogni maledetto lunedì su due
  • Eleven Theses on Feuerbach
  • On Ugliness
  • A Book of Surrealist Games
  • Art in Theory, 1900–2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas
  • The Fountain
  • Communion: A True Story
  • Hymns to the Night
  • Pim and Francie: The Golden Bear Days
  • He
  • Dark Spring
  • A Season in Hell
  • Here
  • Salvador Dalí: 1904-1989
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Luigi Serafini is an Italian artist, architect and designer. He is best known for creating the Codex Seraphinianus, an illustrated encyclopedia of imaginary things in a constructed language.

Related Articles

If you've got an overflowing Want to Read shelf of books that you keep meaning to get to (one day!), you're in good company. Our company, that...
127 likes · 46 comments