John Manly, Henry Darger, and the Voynich Manuscript

I’ve been listening to a podcast about the Voynich manuscript. At the time of this writing, I haven’t finished it but the podcast is great:

http://thinkingsidewayspodcast.com

Here’s the Wikipedia article on the manuscript:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript

Early on, the podcast mentions a researcher into the manuscript named John Manly:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Matthews_Manly

The name sounded familiar and I realized it’s the name of a villain in that sprawling work by Henry Darger:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Darger

This is a portion on Manley the villain, from the documentary on Darger:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HnX5nH2ZV8w

It is said that Manley was based on a boy from Darger’s childhood, so all of this may be coincidence. However, it’s fun to imagine this:

Manley’s article in Speculum about the Voynich manuscript was published within a year of when Darger was said to have started his work.

I find it interesting that the two men lived in Chicago at the same time, one creating a bizarre book and the other critiquing one.

Most likely coincidence, again, but the idea that Darger was trying to create his own version of the Voynich manuscript in a way is slightly poetic.

Granted, if Darger was going to research things, why not go to nearby DePaul?

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About paulgude

Paul Gude writes small books, makes stupid music, draws silly pictures, and does weird things on stage.
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