The Travels of Marco Polo (Classics of World Literature)

The Travels of Marco Polo (Classics of World Literature)

Marco Polo (1254-1329) has achieved an almost archetypal status as a traveller, and his Travels is one of the first great travel books of Western literature, outside the ancient world. The Travels recounts Polo’s journey to the eastern court of Kublai Khan, the chieftain of the Mongol empire which covered the Asian continent, but which was almost unknown to Polo’s contemporaries. Encompassing a twenty-four year period from 1721, Polo’s account details his travels in the service of the empire, from Beijing to northern India and ends with the remarkable story of Polo’s return voyage from the Chinese port of Amoy to the Persian Gulf. Alternately factual and fantastic, Polo’s prose at once reveals the medieval imagination’s limits, and captures the wonder of subsequent travel writers when faced with the unfamiliar, the exotic or the unknown.Modern scholars have questioned the veracity of Marco Polo’s account, but there’s no doubt that his description of his travels through the Mongol Empire of the Middle Ages–with its spices, exotic animals, rare jewels and dancing girls–is enchanting. —Kathleen Keefe

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