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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A Writer’s World In a hugely evocative collection of her travel writing and reportage from five decades, Jan Morris has produced a unique portrait of the late twentieth century world. Ranging from New York to Venice, Oxford to the Middle East, and Wales to South Africa, Jan Morris was a witness to such seminal moments as the Eichmann trial, the first ascent of Everest, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the handover … Full description
Gulliver’s Travels (1726, amended 1735), officially Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships, is a novel by Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the “travellers’ tales” literary sub-genre. It is Swift’s best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature.