The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Paperback
Ostensibly written by an English knight, the Travels purport to relate his experiences in the Holy Land, Egypt, India and China.
Mandeville claims to have served in the Great Khan's army, and to have travelled in 'the lands beyond' - countries populated by dog-headed men, cannibals, Amazons and Pygmies.
Although Marco Polo's slightly earlier narrative ultimately proved more factually accurate, Mandeville's was widely known, used by Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci and Martin Frobisher, and inspiring writers as diverse as Swift, Defoe and Coleridge.
This intriguing blend of fact, exaggeration and absurdity offers both fascinating insight into and subtle criticism of fourteenth-century conceptions of the world.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages, illustrations
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 31/03/2005
- Category: Classic travel writing
- ISBN: 9780141441436
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Review by davidpwithun
I have to be honest and say that I had never heard of this work, at least so far as I can recall, until I found a used copy of it in the bookshelves of my local Goodwill. But I'm very happy that I found it! The text is fascinating in its own right as it presents us with the perspective of an Englishman of the 14th century looking at, examining, and perhaps actually exploring the wider world around him, including a great diversity of cultures and geographic locations. This makes it interesting as both a historical work -- a real firsthand perspective that touches on these interesting topics -- and also a study in psychology and sociology, as we view his views of these various cultures. The work is, as I learned through the introduction and notes which accompany this addition, also important for the effect it had on European thought in the years leading up to and somewhat after the discovery of the Americas by Europeans. I recommend this book to those with a love for history and culture.