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Travels of Marco Polo Hardcover – Apr 1982

3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Abaris Books; First Edition edition (April 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898350581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898350586
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 22.9 x 29.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,343,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Marco Polo's account of his journey throughout the East in the thirteenth century was one of the earliest European travel narratives, and it remains the most important. The merchant-traveler from Venice, the first to cross the entire continent of Asia, provided us with accurate descriptions of life in China, Tibet, India, and a hundred other lands, and recorded customs, natural history, strange sights, historical legends, and much more. From the dazzling courts of Kublai Khan to the perilous deserts of Persia, no book contains a richer magazine of marvels than the Travels.
This edition, selected and edited by the great scholar Manuel Komroff, also features the classic and stylistically brilliant Marsden translation, revised and corrected, as well as Komroff's Introduction to the 1926 edition. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prologue

Ye Emperors, Kings, Dukes, Marquises, Earls, and Knights, and all other people desirous of knowing the diversities of the races of mankind, as well as the diversities of kingdoms, provinces, and regions of all parts of the East, read through this book, and ye will find in it the greatest and most marvellous characteristics of the peoples especially of Armenia, Persia, India, and Tartary, as they are severally related in the present work by Marco Polo, a wise and learned citizen of Venice, who states distinctly what things he saw and what things he heard from others. For this book will be a truthful one.

It must be known, then, that from the creation of Adam to the present day, no man, whether Pagan, or Saracen, or Christian, or other, of whatever progeny or generation he may have been, ever saw or inquired into so many and such great things as Marco Polo above mentioned. Who, wishing in his secret thoughts that the things he had seen and heard should be made public by the present work, for the benefit of those who could not see them with their own eyes, he himself being in the year of our Lord 1298 in prison at Genoa, caused the things which are contained in the present work to be written by master Rustigielo, a citizen of Pisa, who was with him in the same prison at Genoa;* and he divided it into three parts.

CHAPTER 1

How the Two Brothers Polo Set Forth from Constantinople to Traverse the World

It should be known to the reader that, at the time when Baldwin II. was emperor of Constantinople† where a magistrate representing the doge of Venice then resided, and in the year of our Lord 1260, Nicolo Polo, the father of the said Marco, and Maffeo, the brother of Nicolo, respectable and well-informed men, embarked in a ship of their own, with a rich and varied cargo of merchandise, and reached Constantinople in safety. After mature deliberation on the subject of their proceedings, it was determined, as the measure most likely to improve their trading capital, that they should prosecute their voyage into the Euxine or Black Sea. With this view they made purchases of many fine and costly jewels, and taking their departure from Constantinople, navigated that sea to a port named Soldaia, from whence they travelled on horseback many days until they reached the court of a powerful chief of the Western Tartars, named Barka, who dwelt in the cities of Bolgara and Sarra, and had the reputation of being one of the most liberal and civilized princes hitherto known amongst the tribes of Tartary. He expressed much satisfaction at the arrival of these travellers, and received them with marks of distinction. In return for which courtesy, when they had laid before him the jewels they brought with them, and perceived that their beauty pleased him, they presented them for his acceptance. The liberality of this conduct on the part of the two brothers struck him with admiration; and being unwilling that they should surpass him in generosity, he not only directed double the value of

*A truce between Genoa and Venice, signed in July 1299, undoubtedly released both Marco Polo and his scribe Rustigielo. (See Sir Henry Yule’s introduction to his great scholarly work Ser Marco Polo.) † Baldwin II. reigned from 1237 to 1261.

the jewels to be paid to them, but made them in addition several rich presents.

The brothers having resided a year in the dominions of this prince, they became desirous of revisiting their native country, but were impeded by the sudden breaking out of a war between him and another chief, named Alaù, who ruled over the Eastern Tartars. In a fierce and very sanguinary battle that ensued between their respective armies, Alaù was victorious, in consequence of which, the roads being rendered unsafe for travellers, the brothers could not attempt to return by the way they came; and it was recommended to them, as the only practicable mode of reaching Constantinople, to proceed in an easterly direction, by an unfrequented route, so as to skirt the limits of Barka’s territories. Accordingly they made their way to a town named Oukaka, situated on the confines of the kingdom of the Western Tartars. Leaving that place, and advancing still further, they crossed the Tigris [Volga], one of the four rivers of Paradise, and came to a desert, the extent of which was seventeen days’ journey, wherein they found neither town, castle, nor any substantial building, but only Tartars with their herds, dwelling in tents on the plain. Having passed this tract they arrived at length at a well-built city called Bokhara, in a province of that name, belonging to the dominions of Persia, and the noblest city of that kingdom, but governed by a prince whose name was Barak. Here, from inability to proceed further, they remained three years.

It happened while these brothers were in Bokhara, that a person of consequence and gifted with eminent talents made his appearance there. He was proceeding as ambassador from Alaù before mentioned, to the Great Khan,* supreme chief of all the Tartars, named Kublai, whose residence was at the extremity of the continent, in a direction between north-east and east. Not having ever before had an opportunity, although he wished it, of seeing any na- tives of Italy, he was gratified in a high degree at meeting and con-

* Khan 5 Lord. Kublai was also called the Great Kaan. Kaan 5 Supreme Sovereign (Lord of Lords). Polo always referred to Kublai in writing as the Great Khan and to lesser princes as Khan.

versing with these brothers, who had now become proficients in the Tartar language; and after associating with them for several days, and finding their manners agreeable to him, he proposed to them that they should accompany him to the presence of the Great Khan, who would be pleased by their appearance at his court, which had not hitherto been visited by any person from their country; adding assurances that they would be honourably received, and recompensed with many gifts. Convinced as they were that their endeavours to return homeward would expose them to the most imminent risks, they agreed to this proposal, and recommending themselves to the protection of the Almighty, they set out on their journey in the suite of the ambassador, attended by several Christian servants whom they had brought with them from Venice.

The course they took at first was between the north-east and north, and an entire year was consumed before they were enabled to reach the imperial residence, in consequence of the extraordinary delays occasioned by the snows and the swelling of the rivers, which obliged them to halt until the former had melted and the floods had subsided. Many things worthy of admiration were observed by them in the progress of their journey, but which are here omitted, as they will be described by Marco Polo, in the sequel of the book.

CHAPTER 2 How the Great Khan Sent the Two Brothers as His Envoys to the Pope

Being introduced to the presence of the Great Khan, Kublai, the travellers were received by him with the condescension and affability that belonged to his character, and as they were the first Latins who had made their appearance in that country, they were entertained with feasts and honoured with other marks of distinction. Entering graciously into conversation with them, he made earnest inquiries on the subject of the western parts of the world, of the Emperor of the Romans, and of other Christian kings and princes. He wished to be informed of their relative consequence, the extent of their possessions, the manner in which justice was administered in their several kingdoms and principalities, how they conducted themselves in warfare, and above all he questioned them particularly respecting the Pope, the affairs of the Church, and the religious worship and doctrine of the Christians. Being well instructed and discreet men, they gave appropriate answers upon all these points, and as they were perfectly acquainted with the Tartar language, they expressed themselves always in becoming terms; insomuch that the Great Khan, holding them in high estimation, frequently commanded their attendance.

When he had obtained all the information that the two brothers communicated with so much good sense, he expressed himself well satisfied, and having formed in his mind the design of employing them as his ambassadors to the Pope, after consulting with his ministers on the subject, he proposed to them, with many kind entreaties, that they should accompany one of his Barons, named Khogatal, on a mission to the See of Rome.

His object, he told them, was to make a request to his Holiness that he would send to him a hundred men of learning, thoroughly acquainted with the principles of the Christian religion, as well as with the seven arts,* and qualified to prove to the learned of his dominions by just and fair argument, that the faith professed by Christians is superior to, and founded upon more evident truth than, any other; that the gods of the Tartars and the idols worshipped in their houses were only evil spirits, and that they and the people of the East in general were under an error in reverenc- ing them as divinities.† He, moreover, signified his pleasure that upon their return they should bring with them, from Jerusalem, some of the Holy Oil from the lamp which is kept burning over the Sepulchre of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he professed to hold in veneration and to consider as the true God. Having heard these

* The seven arts of the time were: Rhetoric, Logic, Grammar, Arithmetic, Astronomy, Music, and Geometry. † “. . . and that if they would prove this, he and all under him would become Christians and the Church’s liegemen” (from Yule’s translation).

commands addressed to them by the Great Khan they humbly prostrated themselves before him, declaring their willingness and instant readiness to perform, to the utmost of their ability, whatever might be the royal will. Upon which he caused letters, in the Tartarian language, to be written in his name to the Pope of Rome, and these he delivered into their hands.

He likewise gave orders that they should be furnished with a golden tablet displaying the imperial cipher, according to the usage established by his majesty; in virtue of which the person bearing it, together with his whole suite, are safely conveyed and escorted from station to station by the governors of all places within the imperial dominions, and are entitled, during the time of their residing in any city, castle, town, or village, to a supply of provisions and everything necessary for their accommodation.

Being thus honourably commissioned they took their leave of the Great Khan, and set out on their journey, but had not proceeded more than twenty days when the officer, named Khogatal, their companion, fell dangerously ill, and unable to proceed further, he halted at a certain city. In this dilemma it was determined, upon consulting all who were present, and with the approbation of the man himself, that they should leave him behind. In the prosecution of their journey they derived essential benefit from being provided with the royal tablet, which procured them attention in every place through which they passed. Their expenses were defrayed, and escorts were furnished. But notwithstanding these advantages, so great were the natural difficulties they had to encounter, from the extreme cold, the snow, the ice, and the flooding of the rivers, that their progress was unavoidably tedious, and three years elapsed before they were enabled to reach a sea-port town in the lesser Armenia, named Laiassus. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Is A different edition, The 10#s ISBN is the same but is and old copy, starting with a different cover, So far I am not finish the comparison with the real one, advertised in the Amazon web site. (I do have a copy of the real book with the cover shown here),
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If people really try to think back, to how things were in the ancient world, and see how improbable a journey Marco Polo and his father and uncle undertook, and then completed nearly 30 years after they started, they would probably realize how unlikely such a journey was and why so many people attack Marco Polo as a fraud. Nevertheless, simply as an historical Atlas of China, and with an incredible historical context, warts and all, it is a very illuminating book, showing Chinese cities using their ancient Mongol names (in what other context would someone serving the Mongol emperor record the city names?) and allowing the reader the opportunity to research and discover for themselves, just how fascinating and mysterious other ethnicities and other cultures were to a European of the middle ages.
One of the most fascinating aspects of "The Travels" is not just some of the factual innaccuracies, but the apparent perceptions of Marco Polo, fully willing to believe he had found the final resting place of the first man, Adam, and the wizardry of other peoples, the ability to do magic, and a legend of giant "Rocs" near Madagascar, and how the Khan sent a small expedition to investigate the rumors of such.
If you want a book that makes you ask searching questions about humanity, cultural bias, and the importance of lore and myth in cultures, this book is invaluable.
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This volume will enthrall anyone interested in true adventure. Marco Polo was the original Indiana Jones and then some. Please do not waste time on Gary Jennings' The Journeyer. This is the real deal and needs no dramatic embellishments. The Travels takes you on a trip from 13th century Venice to "Cathay" and back again. You will learn how Europeans found out about fireworks, paper currency, printing and pasta. The harrowing journey across the Gobi desert is particularly well reported. Marco Polo was more than an explorer. He was one of the world's first anthropologists. This is an exciting read, an account of how medieval Europe initially perceived China and the far east, and of how the Mongol rulers and Chinese emperors perceived them. Highly recommended. As to the print quality of the Penguin edition, I have had my copy since the early eighties and it has yellowed only slightly. Viking is now printing on acid-free paper. One must remember that these editions were printed primarily to reach the widest audience for the least amount of expense at the time. For years, Penguins were accessible to students and to the collector who couldn't afford an elaborate, fully illustrated, fully mapped volume of a particular work. I couldn't have read as many of them as I did in my late teens and early twenties if that were not the case. I owe a lifelong debt to the editors for their efforts. I've also never read a bad translation of any Penguin Classic.
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BEST ENGLISH VERSION EVER READ. IT KEEPS THE ORIGINAL FORMAT, WITHOUT, ALMOST. WESTERN PARAMETERS.
AN ENLARGED SET OF MAPS WILL MAKE THE TRAVELS EASY TO FOLLOW. I SUGGEST TO COPY AND ENLARGE PLUS USE A COLOR CODE TO IMPROVE READING.
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By Bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER on Oct. 8 2013
Format: Paperback
A very remarkable book written in the 13th century. Many secrets were reviled when Marc returned. And may interesting explanations of things like the origin of cinnamon.

Marco writes well enough of his travels and you feel that you are there. You can actually follow the trail if you have a map. He describes the flora and fauna of each region and describes the economics and industry of the region.

Example: "The women of the superior class are in like manner free from superfluous hairs; their skins are fare, and they are well formed."

It is interesting to see how little has changed from Marco Polo's 13th century and now.

The Nutritional Trace Metals
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I think that many of us, at one time or another, have wondered about what marvelously interesting lives some of the greats of history have experienced, and felt somewhat diminished by the every day everyday of our own lives. A read of Marco Polo's travels will provide all of the, 'escape into the great unknown', that anyone could ever desire, amid page after page of why we should be careful what we wish for...... We may get it! It is a fascinating read, and well worth the lector's voyage, however, don't be surprised if, among the strange strangeness, the reader (and Marco Polo) seem to become somewhat bored with the trip and just want to tap one's ruby slippers together and go home. This too is part of Marco Polo's tale. He left Italy as a pie-eyed adolescent, and grew to manhood amid Persian caravansari, Tamerlane's glory that was Samarquand, the endless bleakness of the Taklamakand Desert, the fantasies of the Mongol court of China, and the palace life of the south seas. How does one return from a trip like that, especially when it has literally made one into what one has become.

Such is the nature of Marco Polo's post voyage travel log. It opens panaramas in time and space before the reader and allows one to see them with the eyes of a child awakening to adulthood. Curiousity becomes a way of life, and every thing learned is one more chance to survive on the road to the next adventure.

The weakness in this work is the shoddy quality of the historical plates of nonsense interpretations of what Marco Polo saw, as seen through the eyes of an Italian engraver who never traveled further than the next Italian town. High quality plates of well researched historical images of what Marco Polo saw would have been far more interesting. Baring that, no images would have improved it.
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