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The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo
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The Travels of Marco Polo

by Marco Polo

Other authors: Rusticiano da Pisa (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,529332,254 (3.55)75
  1. 40
    The Travels of Ibn Battutah by Ibn Battutah (bookwoman247)
    bookwoman247: Both men traveled extensively in Medeival times. It's interesting to compare the two; one from a Western perspective, and one from a Middle Eastern /North African perspective.
  2. 10
    Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Jannes, Jannes)
  3. 10
    El libro de Marco Polo by Marco Polo (caflores)
  4. 00
    Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu by Laurence Bergreen (JGolomb)
  5. 01
    The Journeyer by Gary Jennings (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Jennings tells 'the rest of the story' in this fictional work.
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» See also 75 mentions

English (26)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This is one of the most famous travel narratives in history, and probably the most famous from Medieval Europe. Its significance in opening up educated European minds to countries and cultures way outside their experience can hardly be overstated ("what really seems to have shocked Marco’s audience was his detailed depiction of entire civilizations that were completely unknown to them. This was a world where express messengers sped letters by foot, horse and dog-sled across thousands of miles in a matter of days, and where banknotes were legal tender when paper was barely known in the West;") He re-opened up knowledge of Asia lost since before the rise of Islam and was the first Westerner to describe the existence of Japan. Of course, his account is also spiced with myths and legends about fabulous beasts such as gryphons and legendary figures such as the fabled eastern Christian ruler Prester John. Polo was inevitably affected by the assumptions of his time, for example in believing Christianity superior to all other belief systems, but nevertheless remains remarkably open to other cultures and experiences. I thought this was particularly evident in the chapter on India, one of his less well known journeys, which was less relatively less repetitive and censorious than some of the others. Despite the book's intrinsic significance and interest, it is very repetitive in places, with very similar or even near identical descriptions applied to numerous city states in what is now China, or the other territories in the vast and sprawling Mongol Empire (its founder Genghis Khan, the grandfather of Marco Polo's patron Kubhlai Khan, conquered more land than anyone else in history in founding the world's largest empire on a single land mass). He is very fond of stock phrases about idolators, paper money, subjects of the Great Khan, and cities having all the necessities of life in abundance. Rhetorical devices such as "What else shall I tell you?" and "Why make a long story of it?" pepper the narrative. All this said, we don't know exactly how much of this narrative was written by Polo himself, a combination of curious traveller and hard-headed businessman, or by his co-writer Rustichello of Pisa, a professional romance writer whom Polo met in prison in Genoa in the late 1290s, after Polo had been captured in the conflict between that city state and his home city of Venice. What we do know is that nearly all of the places Polo mentioned in his book have been identified and he undoubtedly undertook his travels as he said (some sceptics have occasionally doubted the fundamental truth of his account because of his errors or omissions). Rightly a landmark of European literature. ( )
  john257hopper | May 26, 2019 |
In 1271, at the tender age of 17, Marco Polo set off with his father on a 24-year tour of Asia. A few years later, while imprisoned, he related tales of these amazing travels to a fellow inmate who put pen to paper and published them.

One can't help while reading to imagine what it might have been like to be the first European visiting such exotic places! Despite its age, The Travels of Marco Polo is surprisingly accessible to 21st-century readers. The narrative is casual, almost conversational. Polo's observations about the many peoples and cultures he meets are often quite amusing, though occasionally repetitive. His commentary is also at times racist regarding a culture's inferiority and then alternately praiseworthy of another's superiority to that of Europeans. I was fortunate to get my hands on the library's last remaining copy of an illustrated edition, which included colorful maps and attractive photographs of places, artwork and artifacts. It's a shame that this edition is now out of print.

"They are idolaters and have a peculiar language." – pretty much every new Asian culture Polo encounters ( )
  ryner | Apr 26, 2019 |
Who doesn't know what the Travels of Marco Polo are about? Controversy about the veracity of this book abound, but I will leave that for the scholars to debate. For me, the readability and peek into the past is what matters. It is quite readable and indeed even engrossing in portions. Other portions needed mighty skimming to keep me from quitting the book altogether.

Having a smartphone by your side is a wonderful way to read this. So many things sound utterly fantastic and as if they are part of the romanticism of the man Rustigielo who actually wrote the book while listening to Marco Polo, and yet, when you look into it with diligence, low and behold that thing does (or did) exist, or that custom was practiced and so on. Camelopard (giraffe) anyone? Or how about the descriptions of asbestos, a fabric which doesn't burn and is mined from the ground? This is full of delightful discoveries like that.

The illustrations from the Fourteenth century are quite comical in their representations of things like rhinoceros (pictured as a unicorn) and battles, and women dancing before an idol in India (fully gowned nuns with veils in the illustration). They make you stop and think though. Probably the artist had never seen or heard of such things before, so they had to pull from their own imagination what they would look like.

This is a book I am glad to have read, but don't expect it to be engrossing from cover to finish. ( )
  MrsLee | May 29, 2017 |
High noise to signal ratio here. Some interesting anecdotes and details nestled in lots of repetitive and unimportant minutia. For example, you learn that Kublai Kahn oversaw a system of crop insurance but also the specific religions in each local (this one has lots of idolaters and this one has lots of idolaters and this one has lots of idolaters, etc.) ( )
1 vote bzbooks | Jan 4, 2017 |
Okay, so it's not an airport romance easy read, it does take a bit of a push to get through. But, hey, it's Marco Polo, it's got to be done. You'll be glad you did! ( )
  Garrison0550 | May 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (136 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Polo, MarcoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armiño, MauroEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bellonci, MariaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blay, Frédéric LeEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Camesasca, EttoreEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carrera Díaz, ManuelEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, PeterEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Komroff, ManuelEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Latham, RonaldEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marsden, WilliamEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moule, Arthur ChristopherEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ronchi, GabriellaEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rossabi, MorrisEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rugoff, MiltonEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waugh, TeresaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, ThomasEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yerasimos, StéphaneEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rusticiano da PisaAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Øye, AgneteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Badel, Pierre-YvesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bellonci, Mariasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bertolucci Pizzorusso, Valeriasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bringsværd, Tor ÅgePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cardona, Giorgio RaimondoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corbino, JonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Della Valle, ValeriaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dwiggins, W. A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Friston, Adrian deIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Göransson, G.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gemme, Francis R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gordon, WitoldIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guignard, EliseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Joki, Aulis J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonckheere, KarelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lapshin, Nikolai FodorovitchIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malvano, Maria VittoriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masefield, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Painter, Douglas M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ricci, AldoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segre, CesareForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solmi SergioPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strizzi, SergioPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
t'Serstevens, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tusseau, Jean-PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yule, HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
I am a name
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much Have I seen and known, cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all.

Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
First words
The Venetian Marco Polo is not only the most renowned traveler in world history, but he and his book have generated more speculation then almost any other person or volume in world literature.
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Jacques Marchais original library book
A Modern Translation by Teresa Waugh from the Italian by Maria Bellonci

It was one of Marco Polo's claims that he had travelled more extensively that any man since Creation. His account of his travels has for centuries delighted and inspired readers, including Christopher Columbus who possessed a much treasured and well-thumbed copy of The Travels.

Marco Polo was born in 1254, into a family of enterprising and succesful Venetian merchants. In 1271 he accompanied his father and uncle on their second visit to China and the court of Kublai Khan. Marco Polo adapted readily to Tartar customs and soon learnt their language. He proved himself an invaluable emissary of the Tartar ruler and spent the next seventeen years travelling in his service, enjoying a freedom of movement in the Mongol empire probably unequalled by any other European before or since. He travelled to areas as far afield as the Polar Sea and Jarva, Zanzibar and Japan. Some of the places he visited remained unseen by other Europeans for another 600 years, when Allied troops opened the Burma Road during the Second World War.

In 1298 Marco Polo was a prisoner of war in Genoa where he met the romance-writer Rustichello of Pisa, a fellow prisoner. Rustichello was quick to perceive that Marco Polo had a unique story to tell, covering as it did a vast panorama of nations and peoples - Persians, Turks, Tartars, Chinese, Tibetans, Indians, and many others - with all their strange and wonderful customs. Together the two Italians wrote The Travels. Marco Polo had an observant eye and a retentive memory. He was also quick-witted and resourceful, a practical traveller and a shrewd merchant. His vivid descriptions of all he saw and experienced resulted in one of the world's most remarkable books.

This new modern-English translation is beautifully illustrated with line drawings and sixty-four pages of stunning colour photographs from the television series on Marco Polo's travels, filmed with the full co-operation of the Chinese government.

Colour photography by Sergio Strizzi fron the film Marco Polo.
Marco Polo was the most famous traveller of his time. His voyages began in 1271 with a visit to China, after which he served the Kubilai Khan on numerous diplomatic missions. On his return to the West he was made a prisoner of war and met Rustichello of Pisa, with whom he collaborated on this book. The accounts of his travels provide a fascinating glimpse of the different societies he encountered: their religions, customs, ceremonies and way of life; on the spices and silks of the East; on precious gems, exotic vegetation and wild beasts. He tells the story of the holy shoemaker, the wicked caliph and the three kings, among a great many others, evoking a remote and long-vanished world with colour and immediacy. [Amazon.co.uk]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140440577, Paperback)

Marco Polo was the most famous traveller of his time. His voyages began in 1271 with a visit to China, after which he served the Kubilai Khan on numerous diplomatic missions. On his return to the West, he was made a prisoner of war and met Rustichello of Pisa, with whom he collaborated on this book. The accounts of his travels provide a fascinating glimpse of the different societies he encountered: their religions, customs, ceremonies and way of life; on the spices and silks of the East; on precious gems, exotic vegetation and wild beasts. He tells the story of the holy shoemaker, the wicked caliph and the three kings, among a great many others, evoking a remote and long-vanished world with colour and immediacy.

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

(see all 9 descriptions)

Presents a translation of thirteenth-century Venetian explorer Marco Polo's account of his travels throughout China, India, Persia, and other places.

» see all 11 descriptions

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