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The Travels of Friar Odoric [Hardcover]

Odoric of Pordenone

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Book Description

Nov. 7 2001 Italian Texts and Studies on Religion and Society
Odoric, a Franciscan monk from northeastern Italy, spent much of the early 14th century traveling throughout Asia. His adventures provided one of the most important Western accounts of life and culture in what is present-day Iran, India, Indonesia, China, Nepal, and Russia.

Setting off only twenty years after Marco Polo's historic trip to the East, Odoric was the only religious traveler to the East whose voyage was recorded, making his account one of unparalleled importance for scholars and historians. Interestingly, Odoric noted the religious and cultural customs of the places he visited, treating their practices with tolerance, respect, and curiosity. Odoric frequently took pains to tell of spectacular things—mountains of salt, impenetrable deserts, mice as big as dogs, trees that produced bread, magic fish, sensational pearls, gigantic tortoises, men with the head of a dog, hens covered in wool, and women equipped with fangs—making this fantastic reading even for those with casual interest.

The description of Odoric's journey to the East comes from the account he dictated upon his return to Italy, which was translated and widely circulated throughout Europe. It is one of the finest examples of 14th-century literature extant. The account used in this printing comes from Sir Henry Yule's translation, prepared in 1866 and still unsurpassed for its historic value and its faithfulness to the original Latin text.

With a thorough and informative introduction by Paolo Chiesa (University of Udine), historians, scholars, and even those with a passing interest in the tenuous relationship between the East and the West will find The Travels of Friar Odoric to be fascinating reading.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Wm.B. Eerdman's Publishing (Nov. 7 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802849636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802849632
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 14.1 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,375,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Booklist

Not long after Marco Polo traveled east to extend the reach of trade, a Franciscan friar, Odoric of Pordenone, sought to push Christianity in the same direction. According to both his account of his expedition and Paolo Chiesa's detailed introduction to this edition of an 1866 translation, Odoric was a simple, doggedly devoted servant of God. Yet at the time of his death, in 1331, this pious, largely unremarkable man was considered a candidate for sainthood because of the long, difficult mission to Asia. Odoric's humble narrative carries us through the wonders of the East with striking succinctness and clarity. Although his deep interest in the countries and cultures he explored comes through vividly, he never forgets his duty, and all the sights and sounds he absorbs are filtered through his singular sense of divine purpose. In the end, Odoric's travelogue works as both an outsider's educated perception of an entrancing place and time and the tale of one man who moved closer to God by traveling toward the sunrise. Will Hickman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Travel with a medieval man of letters Jan. 31 2008
By Gavin O'Driscoll - Published on Amazon.com
If you get this edition, and I believe it's the only edition currently available, read Friar Odoric's travels before the introduction. That way it'll make more sense, believe me. I adore first hand accounts of medieval travellers, and here's one to rival Marco Polo. The good Friar is also less prone to telling porky pies than M. Polo I reckon. Nevertheless, his travels needed little further embellishment. A real snapshot of a bygone and lost era travelling through some lands that are now much changed.

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