Agrippa»Bibliographic Specs

Bibliographical descriptions of Agrippa (a book of the dead).

Agrippa»Deluxe Edition (selections)

The Deluxe Edition of Agrippa comes in a heavy, distressed case. In the honeycombed bed of the under-case, wrapped in a shroud, lies the 11⅛ x 15 ⅞ x 1⅛ inch book, whose title is hand-burned into the cover. The Deluxe Edition contains 63 viewable pages with ragged, sometimes scorched edges, including copperplate aquatint etchings by Dennis Ashbaugh alluding to DNA gel patterns and body text pages consisting of dual, 42-line columns excerpting a DNA sequence from the bicoid maternal morphogen gene of the fruitfly. Page 63 (and another underlying 20 pages glued together) has a hollowed-out cavity holding the diskette with William Gibson’s poem.
      The Deluxe Edition was originally priced at $1500 (later $2000). An unknown number of copies (fewer than 95) are extant; three are known to be held by public libraries or museums. Each copy is partly unique because of handmade or hand-finished elements. (See “Bibliographic Description”.) Photos selected for this site are from the “Archive-1” copy provided by the publisher.

Work with book in Virtual Lightbox

Agrippa»”Small” Edition

The Small Edition of Agrippa (a book of the dead) has not been physically examined by the editors of The Agrippa Files site. The Center for Book Arts refers to it as the “regular edition” as follows: “The regular edition of Agrippa was also set in Monotype Sans Gill, but in a single column page format. It was printed by the Sun Hill Press on Mohawk Superfine text and the reproduction of the etchings were printed on a Canon laser printer. The book was Smythe sewn at Spectrum Bindery and is enclosed in a clamshell box” (Center for Book Arts online statement).
      The Small Edition was intended to be sold at a cheaper price of $450. However, according to the publisher, most of the print run was cancelled after being produced. An unknown number of copies are extant; one copy is known to be publicly accessible (Waldo Library, Western Michigan University). See “Bibliographic Description” for a fuller overview of Agrippa and exact specifications.
Work with book in Virtual Lightbox


Early or unique prototypes, mock-ups, and prospectuses for Agrippa (a book of the dead)

»Discussion Forum

Comment on Agrippa and its archival materials. Or make suggestions for The Agrippa Files site.

Commentary»Essays & Interviews

Original or reprinted scholarly writings on Agrippa. The Agrippa Files solicit submissions of additional scholarly works (full or excerpted). Original creative works that allude to, borrow from, respond to, or in some other way negotiate with Agrippa are also solicited. Contact the editors.


Commentary on Agrippa (a book of the dead)

Archival Documents   »The DNA Code

Materials related to the fruit-fly gene that provided the raw feed (the “ACGT” DNA sequences) for the body text in Agrippa (a book of the dead)

Archival Documents   »Miscellaneous

Other archival materials related to the creation, publication, and reception of Agrippa (a book of the dead)

Archival Documents   »The Disk and Its Code

Documents, code, analysis of the code, and an emulation related to the functioning of the Mac diskette containing William Gibson’s poem in Agrippa. The diskette contained a custom-built set of programs that decrypted a pre-encrypted copy of the poem, rendered it as black text on white background scrolling up the screen at an unstoppable pace, and then created the illusion of re-encrypting the poem and making it “disappear” forever after it had been seen once. (In reality, the “Cracking the Agrippa Code” contest showed in 2012, there was no encryption program on the disk. Instead, the decrypted text was left behind in computer memory, while a simple cipher substitution generated through a reuse of the decryption routine created the appearance of reencryption on the screen.  A brute-force algorithm initiated at the start of running the disk also destroyed the disk’s stored routines by overwriting them with the alphabetic ACGT letters of faux-DNA code.) In the documents related to the creation of the code in 1992, the hired programmer’s name and signature have been blacked out due to his wish (according to Agrippa’s publisher) to remain anonymous.