Saturday, May 29, 2004

did the earth move for you too?

I'd love to have a look at this book:

It has been called the most beautiful book in the world, and the most unreadable. Its hero has sex with buildings. It also has a nearly unpronounceable title, The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Published in Venice in 1499, it is written in many languages, including Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Italian, invented words and hieroglyphics, and it was not even fully translated until 1999, when the first complete English edition appeared. There are perhaps 260 copies in existence, among them one at Princeton University. No one is sure what it is about, or even who wrote it.
This much is understood: a character, Poliphilo, dreams of his beloved Polia, and of his journeys in search of her. The title can be translated as "the struggle for love in a dream". Poliphilo has dreams within dreams, and when he has sex with buildings in at least one case his ecstasy is returned. The book is illustrated with exquisite woodcuts of the swooning hero and heroine, enchanted gardens, strange creatures, cherubs and nymphs.
The key to the true authorship of The Hypnerotomachia may lie hidden in the beautifully ornate letters at the beginning of each chapter, which spell out the words "Brother Francesco Colonna greatly loved Polia."(Mystery and complexity form simple code for publishing hit, Sydney Morning Herald)

I love that, 'in at least one case his ecstasy is returned'. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?