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The Travels of Friar Odoric: 14th Century…

The Travels of Friar Odoric: 14th Century Journal of the Blessed Odoric of…

by Odoric of Pordenone

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The oldest travel book about Indonesia (and China and Mongolia) I found is from Odoric of Friuli, an Italian Franciscan monk who dictated “Odoritus de Rebus Incognitus” around 1330 to a fellow monk after his 13-year journey. The book is translated in Dutch as “Mijn Reis naar het Verre Oosten” (2008) [transl.: My Journey to the Far East]. In less than 60 pages Oderic travels through the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam and further to China, but unfortunately, his most used phrase is that “there are many very strange things happening here, but this is not the place to tell about them”, or similar cut-offs. Where he does describe detail, it is often about religious matters. Aceh commands one page, a place where according to Odoric everybody walks naked and does it with everybody, and children are being sold to be eaten. Yet, Aceh commands more space than Java. Disappointing travel account, only of interest because it is almost 700 years old. ( )
  theonearmedcrab | May 16, 2016 |
Pathetic. It's clear from the forward that this volume aims to support the canonization of Odoric and that scholarship or, for that matter, thought matters much less (see in particular the introduction's embarrassing description of the Mongol invasion). The intro treats his travels as real, trying, as so many folks have done before, to map his travels onto the actually existing world (suspend, please, your theoretical objections: you know what I mean). The translation is, once more, the Henry Yule translation, now 150 years old or so, even though better editions* of this very popular work (translations from Latin into Italian 7 times, French twice, and German) have appeared since the middle of the 19th century. Why Franciscans couldn't get someone to do a new translation from the Latin, I don't know.

Nonetheless, this is essential reading for anyone writing on what may be the most famous adaptation, namely, the Travels of John Mandeville. Read this here or, better yet, read the Yule trans for free via here.

* this volume claims the current standard edition is A. Van den Wyngaert, Sinica Franciscana I (Florence-Quarecchi, 1929), 413-95 ( )
  karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Odoric of Pordenoneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hunink, VincentTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nieuwenhuis, MarkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802849636, Hardcover)

Mountains made of salt, deserts wider than oceans, mice as big as dogs, trees that produced bread, magic fish, sensational pearls, gigantic tortoises, men with the head of a dog, hens covered in wool...not to mention women with fangs. It was all heppening in the Far East in the 14th century! Odoric, a Franciscan monk from northeastern Italy, spent much of the early 14th century travelling throughout Asia, just twenty years after Marco Polo. His adventures provided one of the most important Western accounts of life and culture in what is present-day Iran, India, Indonesia, China, Nepal, and Russia. Despite the exaggerations which crept into his journals, Odoric noted with acute accuracy the religious and cultural customs of the places he visited making his account of unparalleled importance for scholars and historians.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:36 -0400)

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