The Travels of Sir John Mandeville: The Fantastic 14th-Century Account of a Journey to the East (Dover Books on Travel, Adventure)

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9780486443782: The Travels of Sir John Mandeville: The Fantastic 14th-Century Account of a Journey to the East (Dover Books on Travel, Adventure)

One of the most influential books of the medieval period, John Mandeville's fourteenth-century work was written, ostensibly, to encourage and instruct pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. A thorough compendium of medieval lore, the travel book proved to be a great success throughout Europe. (Among his alleged readers were Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus.)
The Travels professes to relate Mandeville's experiences in the Holy Land, Egypt, India, and China--where he served in the Great Khan's army--followed by his journey to "the lands beyond," countries populated by "dog-headed men, cannibals, Amazons, and pygmies." Five centuries after Mandeville recorded his observations in those distant lands, the volume's remarkably exacting accounts of events and geography were found to be probable fabrications.
Nevertheless, the book's widespread popularity and influence make it essential to the study of medieval English literature. An engaging mix of fact and fantasy, enhanced with more than 100 rare woodcut illustrations, it has retained its place as one of the greatest and most entertaining works of early English vernacular prose.

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Review:

By the standards of the 14th century, the writing style of the man who called himself Sir John Mandeville is so informal as to be nearly chummy: "He who wants to pass over the sea to Jerusalem, may go by many ways, both by sea and by land depending on the countries he comes from; many ways come to a single end. But do not think I shall tell of all the towns and cities and castles that men shall go by, for then I must make too long a tale of it." Historians remain skeptical as to whether the author really did journey to the Holy Land and Egypt, or hire himself out as a soldier to the Great Khan of China. Whatever the case, it is indisputable that he is one of the first modern travel writers, as we have come to know the genre, and that his book was considered authoritative in matters geographical throughout Europe--consulted by Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus alike.

About the Author:

Sir John Mandeville claimed in his book to be an English knight who began his travels in 1322, but the book was originally written in French, and the truth of the author’s identity—and whether in fact he actually traveled—is not known.


C.W.R.D. Moseley has taught Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge for many years.


C.W.R.D. Moseley has taught Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge for many years.

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ISBN 10: 0486443787 ISBN 13: 9780486443782
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