A useful analysis — Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World

This is not an illustrated edition. Unless one calls a book with 250 pages of text and 14 pictures an illustrated edition.

The strengths of this book are the analysis on the origins of The Travels by Marco Polo, whether the Polos did travel to China, the text itself and its impact on the western world.

Larner presented a robust defence to the book by Dr Frances Wood’s Did Marco Polo go to China? which asserted that the three Polos did not travel to China and that the furthest they travelled was to Bukhara.

Dr Wood asserted that the book was a hoax as Marco Polo failed to mention the Great Wall, fishing with cormorants, foot binding, tea, Confucianism, Taoism, printing, Chinese script, tea house or acupuncture. {see page 59 to 61}. It is also troubling that Chinese records have no mention of the three Polos. {p 31}.

Li Tse Fen an expert on the Yuan dynasty also asserted that the absence of any reference to the most basic of Chinese customs and culture by Marco Polo shows that his claim that he held high office in China or gave reports on the Chinese domains to the Great Khan cannot be true. {p64}.

Larner asserted that the Polos had no reason to be away from Venice for 24 years in order to lie about their trip to China. This is not really a satisfactory rebuttal. The Chinese are known for their meticulous records. If indeed, the three Polos spent 19 of their 24 years away in China there would have been a record of them in Chinese sources, imperial or by the literati. I am more inclined to agree with Dr Wood and Li. This is a useful book for readers interested in this debate and on the book contents.

One Reply to “A useful analysis — Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World”

  1. That there was no mention whatsoever of Marco Polo in any Chinese historical record is de strongest point of contention. The Chinese being so meticulous in keeping copious n multiple records over thousands of years wouldnt have omitted such colorful quailos, would they? Even old civilization like India has to fall back on Chiinese records written by 玄藏。

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