Stock number: 18698
Highly important fantasy book on a supposed voyage and travel to China in 1322.
It acquired extraordinary popularity. Despite the unreliable and fantastical nature of the travels it describes, it was used as a work of reference, and Christopher Columbus was heavily influenced by both this work and Marco Polo.
This is the first and only edition in English of an account of the known world dating from the mid-14th century and probably written originally in French, "one of the most popular and widely circulated books produced anywhere in Europe before the advent of printing and one of the few such books to have had an almost continuous afterlife in print". The earliest recorded edition is a Dutch version printed circa 1477; the earliest known English edition appeared circa 1497-98. Though ostensibly based on the narrator's own experiences, the work was actually compiled from a variety of written sources, including the itineraries of genuine travelers. Nearly half the text deals with the Holy Land and routes there from Europe, and the remainder chiefly with Asia and Africa. Sarton III, 1602-04; Wing M415.
English editions prior to the early 18th century survive in few or in some cases unique copies; ESTC locates 3 of this edition in Great Britain and only the Huntington copy in the United States.