Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World

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9780300079715: Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World

After many years in Asia, Marco Polo wrote one of the most influential books of the past millennium. No mere travel account, Polo’s Book is a work that played a key role in the development of European overseas expansion. In this engaging and authoritative book, historian John Larner explores for the first time the full range of influence of Polo’s Book on the history of geography and exploration. Larner assesses the findings of modern scholarship and offers an original account of Polo and his family, of how and why the Book came into being, and of its reception over the centuries.

Beginning with a discussion of the extent of European knowledge of Asia early in the thirteenth century, Larner considers what is known about Marco Polo’s life and the composition of his text. He examines the Book’s scope and sources (vindicating its author from recent claims that he never visited China), as well as the nature of Polo’s cooperation with his co-author Rustichello da Pisa. He traces the manuscript forms and translations of Polo’s Book in the Middle Ages, its influence on Western cartographers, its fortunes in the climate of fifteenth-century humanism, the possible extent of its encouragement to Columbus, and its later evolution into such new guises as the object of historical scholarship and exotic curiosity. Finally, Larner provides a fresh view of the enigmatic Polo, who, despite a deliberate cultivation of impersonality, continues today to engage the attention of readers.

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Review:

Marco Polo is important not because he traveled extensively in Asia--other 13th-century Europeans did that--but because he wrote down his experiences for others to read. In this excellent study, John Larner of Glasgow University assesses the impact of Polo's Travels on the intellectual society of his day. The book's contribution to learning was immense, giving medieval Europeans new information that forever changed their understanding of Europe's place in the world. Larner analyzes different versions of the book, originally written in a Genoa prison and translated into many languages within Polo's lifetime. He illustrates a number of fascinating early maps and analyzes Polo's influence on later geographical and literary treatises. Though Polo says very little about himself, Larner finds clues to his personality. Polo left Venice when he was 17 and remained in Asia until he was 41; Europe must have seemed strange to him, even uncouth, after his decades of service to Kublai Khan, Mongol emperor of China, the richest and most sophisticated country in the world at the time. Polo formed a strong affinity with the Mongolians, which may explain his failure to learn the Chinese language or mention Chinese customs such as tea-drinking or foot binding, occasionally suggested as evidence that he never in fact visited China. Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World demonstrates in straightforward language and with satisfying detective work how the record of a man's travels became one the most influential books of the millennium. --John Stevenson

About the Author:

"Larner has written an erudite, comprehensive, and very readable study of the enigmatic Venetian Marco Polo, his book, and the book's impact on European culture." Choice John Larner is Professor Emeritus in History and Professorial Fellow of Glasgow University.

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 1999. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. After many years in Asia, Marco Polo wrote one of the most influential books of the past millennium. No mere travel account, Polo s Book is a work that played a key role in the development of European overseas expansion. In this engaging and authoritative book, historian John Larner explores for the first time the full range and influence of Polo s Book on the history of geography and exploration. Larner assesses the findings of modern scholarship and offers an original account of Marco Polo and his family, of how and why the Book came into being, and of its reception over the centuries. Beginning with a discussion of the extent of European knowledge of Asia early in the thirteenth century, Larner considers what is known about Marco Polo s life and the composition of his text. He examines the Book s scope and sources (vindicating its author from recent claims that he never visited China), as well as the nature of Polo s cooperation with his co-author Rustichello da Pisa. He traces the manuscript forms and translations of the Book in the Middle Ages, its influence on modern cartographers, its fortunes in the climate of fifteenth-century Humanism, the possible extent of its encouragement of Columbus, and its later evolution into such new guises as the object of historical scholarship and exotic curiosity. Finally, Larner provides a fresh view of the enigmatic Marco Polo who, despite a deliberate cultivation of impersonality, continues today to engage the attention of readers. John Larner is Professor Emeritus in History and Professorial Research Fellow of Glasgow University. His previous books include The Lords of Romagna: Culture and Society in Italy, 1290-1420 and Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch . Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780300079715

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 1999. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. After many years in Asia, Marco Polo wrote one of the most influential books of the past millennium. No mere travel account, Polo s Book is a work that played a key role in the development of European overseas expansion. In this engaging and authoritative book, historian John Larner explores for the first time the full range and influence of Polo s Book on the history of geography and exploration. Larner assesses the findings of modern scholarship and offers an original account of Marco Polo and his family, of how and why the Book came into being, and of its reception over the centuries. Beginning with a discussion of the extent of European knowledge of Asia early in the thirteenth century, Larner considers what is known about Marco Polo s life and the composition of his text. He examines the Book s scope and sources (vindicating its author from recent claims that he never visited China), as well as the nature of Polo s cooperation with his co-author Rustichello da Pisa. He traces the manuscript forms and translations of the Book in the Middle Ages, its influence on modern cartographers, its fortunes in the climate of fifteenth-century Humanism, the possible extent of its encouragement of Columbus, and its later evolution into such new guises as the object of historical scholarship and exotic curiosity. Finally, Larner provides a fresh view of the enigmatic Marco Polo who, despite a deliberate cultivation of impersonality, continues today to engage the attention of readers. John Larner is Professor Emeritus in History and Professorial Research Fellow of Glasgow University. His previous books include The Lords of Romagna: Culture and Society in Italy, 1290-1420 and Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch . Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780300079715

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