The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
This rich, fantastical medieval work remains the prototype of the fabulous travel narrative
Immediately popular when it first appeared around 1356, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville became the standard account of the East for several centuries—a work that went on to influence luminaries as diverse as Leonardo da Vinci, Swift, and Coleridge. Ostensibly written by an English knight, the Travels purport to relate his experiences in the Holy Land, Egypt, India, and China. Mandeville claims to have served in the Great Khan’s army and to have journeyed to “the lands beyond”—countries populated by dog-headed men, cannibals, Amazons, and pygmies. This translation by the esteemed C.W.R.D. Moseley conveys the elegant style of the original, making this an intriguing blend of fact and absurdity, and offering wondrous insight into fourteenth- century conceptions of the world.