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News Release — June 1, 2004

Ransom Center Displays Rare Copy of "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili"

The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center will display a copy of the rare book "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili" in the Ransom Center Galleries from June 1 through Aug. 15.

The enigmatic "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili" and the investigation of its puzzles form the basis for the current bestseller "The Rule of Four" by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. Historical and pseudo-historical investigations of Renaissance and other early texts and manuscripts have been frequently in the news since the publication of "The Da Vinci Code" and similar books.

The Harry Ransom Center owns three copies of the "Hypnerotomachia" and will display a first edition of the book from the Center's William Alexander Parsons Collection.

Almost everything about the "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili" is mysterious, including how to pronounce its title (hip nair otto MOCK ee a PAHL if eel ee), its author (probably Francesco Colonna, of whom nothing is known), its language (a strange mixture of Latin, Italian, other languages, and invented words and phrases), its subject, its audience and the circumstances of its writing and publication.

"All that is known for certain is that the book was published in Venice in 1499 by the great printer Aldus Manutius and that it is one of the most beautiful books of the Renaissance -- or any other period -- with a superb arrangement of text and illustrations," said John Thomas, curator of the Pforzheimer Collection at the Ransom Center.

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