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The Travels

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Marco Polo (1254-1329) has achieved an almost archetypal status as a traveller, and his Travels is one of the first great travel books of Western literature, outside the ancient world. The Travels recounts Polo's journey to the eastern court of Kublai Khan, the chieftain of the Mongol empire which covered the Asian continent, but which was almost unknown to Polo's contemporaries. Encompassing a twenty-four year period from 1271, Polo's account details his travels in the service of the empire, from Beijing to northern India and ends with the remarkable story of Polo's return voyage from the Chinese port of Amoy to the Persian Gulf. Alternately factual and fantastic, Polo's prose at once reveals the medieval imagination's limits, and captures the wonder of subsequent travel writers when faced with the unfamiliar, the exotic or the unknown.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1298

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About the author

Marco Polo

348 books162 followers
Marco Polo was supposedly born in Venice, then in the Venetian Republic and now in Italy. Stories and various documents also alternatively point to his ancestry originating in Korčula, Croatia.

He was a well-known trader and an explorer. He recorded his adventures in a book published as "The Travels of Marco Polo". The original copies of his works are lost.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 577 reviews
Profile Image for فؤاد.
1,057 reviews1,725 followers
December 3, 2016
ماركو پولو، فرزند هفده ساله ى نيكولو پولو، تاجرى ونيزى است كه بيشتر به قصد سياحى (و بعداً به منظور سفارت) پايش به چين باز مى شود و با حيرت شاهد دربار پر هييت خان مغول "قوبيلاى قاآن" مى گردد. خان مغول، همچون كودكى هشتاد ساله كه حوصله اش سر رفته و پيوسته به دنبال چيزهاى جديد است، از اين مسافران غريب شديداً استقبال مى كند و نمى گذارد به كشورشان برگردند. اين است كه نيكولو پولو و پسرش و برادرش قريب به دو دهه در پايتخت حكومت مغول، "خان باليغ" ماندگار مى شوند.

در اين مدت، ماركو با دقت سرشار يك نوجوان پرشور، ريزه كارى هاى مراسم ها و عقايد و جنگ ها را نگاه مى كند و به حافظه مى سپرد تا سى سال بعد، در گوشه ى زندانى تاريك در فرانسه براى رفيقش تعريف كند و رفيقش اين سفرنامه را بنويسد.

چيزى كه مرا شيفته ى كتاب كرد، گزارش مهيجى بود كه راجع به جزئيات دربار مى داد. اين كه در جشن هاى روزهاى عيد لباس همه ى سران بايد همرنگ لباس انتخابى خان مغول باشد، يا به نورچشمى هاى خان لوحه اى زرين مى دادند كه بتوانند از هر نگهبانى بگذرند و به هر شهرى سفر كنند، حاكم موظف باشد خوراك و مسكن و زن برايشان مهيا كند يا سرود خواندن دسته جمعى مغول ها در روز جنگ يا خريد ساليانه ى دخترها از منطقه اى كه به خوبرويى معروف بودند و كيفيت كارشناسى ميزان زيبايى دختران تا متناسب با زيبايى چهره و رفتارشان (خرناس كشيدن يا نكشيدن در خواب يا بد بو بودن يا نبودن عرق و...) به خيل معشوقگان خان بپيوندند يا گلدوزى و آشپزى بياموزند و تأكيد مى كند كه نبايد اين كار را غير انسانى بدانيم، چرا كه خانواده هاى فقير آرزويشان است كه آينده ى دخترشان با ورود به دربار تأمين شود و...
اين جزئيات است كه به تصويرى كه از زندگى گذشتگان داريم، روح مى دمد. مى فهميم كه آن ها هم مانند ما انسان بودند و زندگى اى داشتند، نه چون بازيگران عصا قورت داده ى تئاتر كه جملاتى پر طمطراق مى گويند.
Profile Image for William2.
745 reviews2,969 followers
November 19, 2016
I find it interesting how Marco Polo's description of the Middle East of more than 700 years ago is pretty much a reflection of the way it is today. That is to say, in thrall to the same old tribal passions. Sad, that. The text is perhaps most remarkable for its narrator's incuriousness. We know the richness of these regions from the writings of subsequent travelers and historians, but Polo makes them all seem strikingly similar. The narrative is thin and repetitive. The only thing that makes the text special is its provenance. Not without interest, but too repetitive to sustain my own. Stopped reading page 200.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,549 reviews1,825 followers
November 28, 2019
On the face of it this the classic account of traveller Marco Polo's journey from Venice to China and back again is pretty straight forward. Man makes journey, writes book, has mint named after him.

Yet it is still controversial over what it alleges, contains and does not contain. The book has a complex and unclear textual history. That names of persons, places and offices are in a Persian form is remarkable given the claim that the Polos were active at the court of the Mongol Khan in China . The involvement of noted writer of courtly Romances Rustichello of Pisa, the two apparently spent some time together in prison, is grounds for suspicion -it has been suggested that possibly he was the author or compiler of the work. Though in which case one might wonder why the Travels aren't more literary and courtly in flavour. Some early commentators were disturbed that Polo doesn't mention what we now call 'The Great Wall of China', but since it wasn't built until the seventeenth century after the Mongols had been persuaded to mount up and seek out pastures new that seems a reasonable omission, others were sceptical of the Polo's claim to have worked in government service in China. But it seems there are enough examples in the Mongol world of employing, not necessarily Italians, but non-locals as administrators , judges and officials, for this to be plausible and not just the idle boast of someone who knows their story can never be fact checked. Another theory is that the book in fact was intended to be a kind of pre-Baedeker gazetteer to travel and trade in Asia for go getting ambitious European business men - I feel one would have to effectively reconstruct the text to get practical use out of it, like the number of days between towns, types of goods available in different entrepôts, ideal times of year to travel, deserts to avoid, that kind of thing - the information is there but not immediately accessible. Having said that, other medieval manuals are not user friendly either by contemporary standards.

We are left with the facts that the thing plainly exists, and that it is what it is. The problem perhaps is us and what we expect and look for.

It also contains a mildly garbled account of the rise to power of Genghis Khan and his Mongols.

Profile Image for David.
50 reviews10 followers
September 17, 2007
Here's a book that looks fantastic on the cover: it's the story of Marco Polo's incredible travels to the East, told by the man himself. Then you open the book and look into it a bit and realize that it might be boring against all odds. For one, it isn't the tale of his adventure. Instead, it's a systematic description of all the countries one can find east of Italy. Check that: no narrative.

Then you actually start reading and you find out that no one--not Marco Polo, not the scribe who wrote down his account as they both languished in prison--could bleach the book of its wonder. I'm not kidding. Despite their best efforts to not write an adventure, the adventure shines through. I read this book in long spurts, careful not to worry about soaking up the long, listlike information on each country, instead letting the sheer weirdness of the world wash over me. I flew through reports of roads manned by bandits and directions from oasis to oasis in the deserts (much of the book reads like a seven-hundred-year-old Lonely Planet guide) so I could slow down and marvel at stories like his account of the first assassins--young men drugged and taken to a paradise of women and wine they were told was heaven. After a week there they were drugged and returned to the real world, only to be told that getting back depended on their unbending devotion to the potentate who controlled access to "heaven."

Alexander the Great shows up from time to time as well, the truth of his legacy already twisted by history. But all of that pales to what Marco tells us about the great Khan's court: I was floored. Let me put it into context for you. I always wanted to be completely dumbfounded by the great wonders of human construction--things like the Eiffel Tower or Stonehenge--and it never happened to me until I stood in the courtyard at the main palace in Seoul. Something about the wide expanse paved by huge stones, all done for the love and reverence a people had for a king, knocked me senseless. I could write an essay extolling the wonder of the place, something meant to celebrate the number of man hours and the immense wealth necessary to construct such a wonder. My essay could easily be one-upped by one explaining the pyramids or the Great Wall, pushing the immensity of human achievement to the limit. But whatever any essay totes as the end-all--skyscrapers, space shuttles, lost continents, you name it--Marco Polo's account of Kublai's empire will smash it. It was to big, too great, too much. And to top it all, the emperor seems like a decent guy.

And that's only half of the book. Polo gets to wander around for another eighty pages or so before concluding that he's covered the known world. My verdict: entirely worth it. And there's no test at the end, so you can breeze through all the geography (though having a map handy can be quite fun--I can only imagine what a dedicated Google Earthling could do) and just enjoy the feeling of peeking in on a world of culture that has more or less disappeared completely.
Profile Image for Daren.
1,300 reviews4,373 followers
May 27, 2022
A slow and (honestly) not very enjoyable read, but Marco Polo's book is obviously very important, and was ground breaking at the time. Reliable - no, but there is much that is accurate, mixed with plenty he clearly never experienced personally yet records as he was obviously told these stories by others.

My edition was complete with loads of footnotes which pointed out the differences between various editions, which adds little for the lay reader, but clarifies, I suppose where things were perhaps recorded incorrectly in one version, or tidied up later in another.

Polo, or perhaps Rustichello's formulaic phrasing is painful and annoying - it seems like every page we are given "Now I must tell you about another Kingdom... the people here are idolaters, ruled by a ... and speak their own language. They pay no tribute to anyone ... and as there is nothing else worthy of note we shall continue on our way."

While the base text was repetitive and dull, the anecdotes between kept me interested enough to seek out the next one. Small asides - on strange customs and behaviour (albeit many unbelievable); explanations on how ships were constructed; stories of collecting diamonds using raw meat and scavenging birds, etc.

Counterbalancing these were the repetitive running down of all non-Christian and non-Muslim people as idolators, savages, ugly and unclean. Somehow Polo manages to make so many of these 'kingdoms' sound the same, which was surely not the case as he travelled through them. For so many he reduces them to their trade goods, their leadership and then moves on. Many have speculated that he was writing a book on trade - guide book of sorts, and I can see that - distances travelled (in days), who the people pay tribute to, whether they are Christian, Muslim or idolators, their language - yes that would all tie in. Perhaps Rustichello looked to broaden the appeal of a trade guide but adding the anecdotes in? How dull it would have been without!

However, I am glad to have completed this book, and can move on!

3 stars.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,242 reviews2,257 followers
August 17, 2017
I loved it. He was lying most of the time about India, however... I mean, it's hot here in the tropics, but boiling eggs in the river? And dog-headed people?? But they were such colourful and entertaining lies. 😊
Profile Image for Melcat.
255 reviews25 followers
November 23, 2021
On an fascinating subject, the narrative of Marco Polo's book is unfortunately extremely dry and repetitive. It mainly consists of a list of all the different countries and regions that he has been to, with a few facts added here and there.

I saw in a review from a Goodreads member named David (unfortunately not active anymore, I really hope you're ok buddy) that "much of the book reads like a seven-hundred-year-old Lonely Planet guide ». While I find this sentence hilarious, that doesn't make it less true.

I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you're a collector of this edition (as I am) or particularly interested in travel stories/ geography listing. I’m very strict on reading every book I buy/keep, so the Audiobook kept me company on a few car trips. It really felt like a dream.
Profile Image for Chiara.
242 reviews244 followers
January 28, 2017
Che viaggio! Più di un mese di lettura... del resto Marco Polo ci ha messo poco meno di vent'anni, quindi tutto sommato è andata bene...

A Marco Polo, grandissimo personaggio, viaggiatore straordinario, autore di una delle opere più importanti della storia, voto 5 su 5, e anche più! Al Milione, o Libro delle Meraviglie del Mondo, come da tradizione francese, o The Travels of Marco Polo, com'è noto dagli anglosassoni, 5 stelle meritatissime. Il racconto di una vita passata a esplorare terre lontane un mondo, assimilare nuove culture, per poi rendere il preziosissimo dono all'Occidente antico di narrare il tutto per iscritto, permettendo una nuova apertura tra popoli (e anche merci: il ruolo di mercanti della famiglia Polo è fondamentale, sia per l'accuratezza con cui viene assegnato un valore ad ogni mercanzia trattata, sia perché apre nuove possibilità di scambio) e rendendo note le meraviglie d'Oriente.
I temi trattati sono innumerevoli: dalle battaglie all'illustrazione di usi e costumi di varie culture, dalla descrizione di città e province a quella di grandi personaggi e le loro corti, il libro mantiene la struttura di un diario, che a tratti entusiasma, mentre in alcuni punti risulta un po' pesante da assimilare.
Tra le cose più affascinanti, la descrizione della città di Quinsai, allora capitale della Cina meridionale, l'ammirazione per Kublai e la storia della sua ascesa al trono, la caratterizzazione delle varie religioni incontrate, con tanto di spiegazione dei diversi culti e leggende, e il ruolo della donna nella società, che Marco puntualmente nota e riporta. E poi soprattutto, la prima menzione del Giappone, di cui mai si era sentito parlare nell'Europa occidentale.

Il Milione è frutto di una mente straordinaria (Messer Polo non scherzava: partito a quindici anni, parlava quattro lingue; dopo circa quattro anni di viaggio arriva alla corte di Kublai Khan, di cui riesce a diventare ambasciatore) e della penna di Rustichello da Pisa, che ascoltò la testimonianza di Marco durante la prigionia genovese.
Purtroppo, essendo perduto il manoscritto originale, di tutte le versioni esistenti, non si sa quali siano effettivamente le frasi pensate da Marco Polo, quali quelle aggiunte da Rustichello, quali aggiunte poi - o addirittura modificate - dai diversi traduttori. Ne risulta una lettura poco scorrevole in vari punti, almeno nella versione edita dalla BUR, che riporta varie versioni della stessa storia, parecchie in francese, altre in volgare toscano, con tanto di inutilissime note a piè di pagina che rimandano il lettore a vedere la precedente nota in tal capitolo LXXIV, 250 pagine prima, per capire quel termine. Eh sì, perché nonostante Marco Polo fosse veneziano, ho scoperto essere molto più facile leggere il Milione in altre lingue, ad esempio, in inglese: noi abbiamo ancora la traduzione di circa sei secoli fa, se non sette (che per me non ha senso, visto che l'originale era comunque in francese, non c'è niente di straordinario nel volerlo per forza vendere in volgare, visto che si tratta comunque di una traduzione).

Tutto sommato una lettura imperdibile per gli appassionati di viaggi, di storia o per chi volesse approfondire le culture orientali, che sono soddisfattissima di aver portato a termine
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews191 followers
April 11, 2020
Il Milione, the legendary account of Marco Polo's travels is a fascinating view into history. Commonly known as The Travels of Marco Polo in English, this thirteen century travelogue offers an unique view of an European adventurer and merchant visiting countries unknown to most Europeans. Marco Polo is cited as an author, but Il Milione was supposedly written by Rustichello da Pisa based on Marco Polo's personal narration of his travels. The two spent some time in prison together if I remember correctly. So, this book has a co-writer it could be said. Over the years there has been some despite over book's authenticity. The question whether Marco Polo really visited all those places was often raised. I personally don't really care whether every single story in it is 100 percent historically accurate. I think it's accurate enough.

This book describes Polo's travels through Asia. It often describes local traditions and customs of people Polo passed by. It is filled with descriptions, and one feels more like one is reading an encyclopedia then a travel or adventure book, but I found it interesting. My favourite part of the book was Marco Polo's experiences at the court of Kublai Khan. Anyhow, this is a nice read. It is easy to see how it influenced numerous artists and writers. I listened to an audio version of it that lasted for about 7 hours and had a surprising number of musical numbers. I also read a part of it (before option for an audio version). Honestly, I plan to read it once again, because I had a feeling I might have missed something (I've been a bit distracted lately).

Despite it being historically relevant and quite interesting, for most parts Il Milione is not an engaging read. There are some fascinating and engaging bits, but on overall one doesn't get the feeling of a personal narrative. The writing style leaves something to be desired. However, it is an important book and one well worth a read.
Profile Image for Aurelia.
92 reviews83 followers
July 16, 2020
Fin XIII siècle, Venise est cité état à l’influence immense, qui s’étend jusqu’à la mer noire en passant par Constantinople. Ses comptoirs commerciaux et sa supériorité navale lui permettent de faire le monopole sur le commerce avec le monde musulman, à travers lequel l’Europe se fournit par toutes les marchandises venant de l’Inde et de la Chine. Mais bientôt cette suprématie sera en péril, à cause des manœuvres d’une autre cité Etat de la péninsule italienne, à savoir Gênes. Ces luttes, ainsi que d’autres instabilités régionales, vont pousser trois marchands vénitiens, Mafeo, Nicolo et Marco Polo, déjà installés sur la mer noire, à avancer vers l’Orient, en menant un voyage aux dimensions épiques. Sur Un quart de siècle, leur voyage va les mener à travers les steppes de l’Eurasie, vers la Chine, en retournant sur la route du commerce de l’Océan Indien.

Marco Polo relate ce voyage périlleux et extraordinaire bien après son retour à Venise en 1298, avec son père et son oncle, le départ a été en 1272. Marquez que ceci est le deuxième voyage pour les vieux Polo en Chine. Le trajet est souvent en méandres, séparé par plusieurs pauses pour des raisons de mauvais temps ou de guerre. La première partie relatée dans le Livre I a pour départ Constantinople. Après les conquêtes Mongole, l’Est de la Turquie et l’Arménie étaient des territoires dévastés par les luttes sanglantes entre les descendants de Ghingis Khan. L’Irak et l’Iran, quoique d’importants centres commerciaux avec un artisanat de tissu et tapisserie avancé, vivent leur derniers moments de splendeur califale. A part le Samarkand et le Boukhara, importante stations sur la route de la soie, Le Sud de L’Ouzbékistan et le Nord de l’Afghanistan, le Pakistan sont un territoire vaste et inhospitalier. Le nord de la Chine et sa frontière avec la Mongolie est le lieu d’origine de ceux qui ont conquis le monde. Les mongols qui y restent ont préservé leur mode de vie rude. Ceux sont des archers, qui dressent les meilleurs chevaux et oiseaux. Semi nomades vivant sous des tentes, gardant les bêtes et excellant à la chasse. Du nord de la Chine on descend vers Pékin.

Le Livre II est entièrement consacré à la Chine. C’est la splendeur de l’Empire dans toute sa grandeur. Marco Polo est reçu à la cour du premier empereur de la dynastie Yuan, Kubilai Khan, également descendant de Ghengis Khan. La cour impériale est d’une richesse immense. Le pays est fortement urbanisé et industrialisé. La population est importante. L’état Chinois est fort complexe et efficace à la gestion et l’organisation des différentes fonctions régales : finance publique et impots, sécurité et défense, travaux publiques, Poste et même un rudiment des services sociaux… Ses différentes missions auprès du Grand Khan, vont mener Marco Polo au confin de l’Ouest à travers le Yuan jusqu’au Birmanie et le Nord du Vietnam, ainsi que vers l’Est, sur le Yangzi, jusqu’à Hangzhou, et les ports magnifiques sur la mer de Chine.

Le Livre III relate le trajet de retour à Venise, en empruntant la route du commerce de l’Océan Indien. Il s’agit des royaumes des épices, indépendants de l’influence de la Chine : l’Indonésie et ses iles riches Java et Sumatra, le Sri Lanka et toutes les cotes de l’Inde jusqu’au Gujarat. Un monde exotique, ou ni les gens ni les animaux ni les plantes ne ressemblent à ce que le reste du monde connait, leurs produits sont échangés avec les chevaux venant d’Arabie. Les courants de l’Océan Indien mènent les marchands au détroit de Hormuz, puis le Sud du Yémen, ensuite la corne d’Afrique jusqu’au Zanzibar.

Loin d’être une simple leçon de géographie, le livre des Merveilles est un témoignage d’un moment assez particulier de l’Histoire de l’Humanité : le monde après les conquêtes Mongole. Contrairement aux autres évènements bouleversant, celui-ci est peut-être le plus obscure. Cette description permet d’éclairer et la période et l’évènement. C’est un texte très précieux.
Profile Image for Jenny.
924 reviews89 followers
January 8, 2019
While this book can be fascinating and highly amusing, it is also extremely repetitive, fictitious, and at times, downright boring. I'm glad I read it, but I wish I had read a different translation. According to the translator of this edition, other people cut out the repetitive parts and the narrative technique of saying, "I will tell you" and things like that. I would probably have gotten through the book much more quickly without those things. That being said, it's a classic, and it does have its merits. The most interesting parts were those so out there that the reader knows they're fake and the parts about things that other historical accounts have corroborated because I know they're more or less accurate, so this book just offers a different perspective on an accepted truth.
I recommend this book only to people interested in 13th-century history and people who enjoy travel narratives, fictitious, truthful, or blends of both.
Profile Image for Gary  Beauregard Bottomley.
979 reviews580 followers
May 9, 2020
What a bunch of superstitious people those Idolaters and Saracens are. They are always appealing to their astrologers and magicians when faced with issues to resolve. They’re nothing like nor as worthy as the ‘blind Shoemaker’ who poked out his own eye in order not to lust within his heart at a woman as he was fitting her for shoes and when all the other Christians within that country (Persia?) could not possess as much faith as a tiny mustard seed and could not move a mountain under penalty of death from the Khan, through all that was holy the blind Shoemaker did move that mountain and the Khan remained a secret Christian always secretly wearing a cross until his death.

Of course, the three Wisemen were Magi and therefore magicians and astrologers and their astrology properly showed to them and proved to them that the Messiah and the Son of God was to be born in a manger in Bethlehem and they are not like the fake astrologers or idolaters as the others who make up these unintentionally ironic adventures of Marco Polo since Marco Polo knows exactly what happened to them and where they ended up at after the birth of Christ.

Prestor John is real and Nestorian Christians are heterodox but they are much better than Idolaters and Saracens because at least they believe in the two natures of Christ but don’t fully comprehend the three persons of the Trinity as three characters but each with separate natures but the same (whatever?). I often wondered what happened to my favorite Apostle of all, I’ve read the Book of Thomas and now I know that Thomas was real and evangelized India and the shrines prove it beyond superstitious folly.

All of the women are the most beautiful in the world in that region of Persia that Marco Polo mentions, and in that other region, they have large rears and that is highly praised by the men of that country. In that other region, they do not value chastity and see it as a vice since the women love to give of themselves to strangers and the family expects highly prized gifts in return which, indeed, brings great honor onto their family. I would call it pimping out family members, Marco Polo called it virtue.

Absurdities about the other never go out of fashion. When it comes to our own absurdities, we just special plead them out of existence. It doesn’t really matter that almost every specific thing in this book is a fabrication of some sort, what matters is that people believed it could be true, since, after all, Idolaters and Saracens don’t believe in the right set of myths as Marco Polo and his readers did. There was not one accurate thing about Buddhist, Hindu or Chinese religions mentioned in this book. Anybody who thinks this is an accurate portrayal of the East and believes the East is just like that today should vote for Donald Trump and continue with their special pleading for their own myths.
Profile Image for Carlos Bazzano.
79 reviews29 followers
September 19, 2017
Marco Polo, fue uno de los personajes que más admiración despertaban en mí cuando era niño (recuerdo cierto programa de televisión en forma de dibujos animados que relataba sus aventuras, el nombre se me ha ido), quizá la leyenda más que el personaje histórico en sí mismo. Muchas veces había oído hablar del relato de sus grandiosos viajes y la curiosidad siempre me había conducido a buscar tales relatos y tardé en dar con ellos. Confieso que, de haber leído El libro de las maravillas en mi infancia o adolescencia lo habría encontrado tremendamente aburrido, no es que ahora no su lectura no me haya resultado aburrida, pero lo habría sido mucho más habida cuenta de la ingente cantidad de descripciones y el nulo contenido de aventuras que un chico habría esperado.

Ahora, a mis 31 años al fin puede leer esta obra que, valga la aclaración es un tremendo clásico, considero que a pesar de todo el sopor que me ocasionó este libro, extremadamente lento y profuso en descripciones, avanzar por sobre el aburrimiento ocasionado por el carácter monótono del libro, ha valido la pena poder ver el mundo a través de los ojos de uno de los personajes más destacados del siglo XIII, sus valores, su reporte de la realidad que, de tan peculiar que parece hoy día, viene a relativizar nuestra experiencia de la realidad misma.

El libro en sí cuenta con un ritmo lento y tedioso – lo cual deriva, como ya he dicho de la excesiva cantidad de descripciones y del tono utilizado en la narración – no obstante, debo decir que la inteligencia de Marco Polo me ha conquistado. Todo cuanto hace parece tener una razón, un motivo oculto que va más allá de apenar obtener lo necesario, busca siempre ir más allá, aprender, conocer y no quedarse únicamente con la respuesta básica, sino que intenta siempre conocer el funcionamiento de las cosas.

Con relación a sus viajes debo decir que me hubiera encantado formar parte de dicha expedición, si bien los relatos de tales viajes cuentan con un claro tono fantasioso, resulta perfectamente compatible con el imaginario europeo de la Edad Media. En este punto conviene aclarar que este libro contiene una de las leyendas gastronómicas más difundidas: la cual indica que supuestamente Polo introdujo los spaguettis a Italia desde China, leyenda que investigaciones más recientes han desmentido.

Este libro no contiene apasionantes relatos de grandes aventuras, es un buen documento histórico eso sí, pero no más.
Profile Image for Carola.
289 reviews
April 2, 2021
No puedo creer que me demoré tantos años en leer este libro cuando siempre he alucinado con Marco Polo y sus aventuras (yo soy viajera también, desde los 21 años, y mi abuela también lo fue en una época en que las mujeres estaban en su casa guardadas). De los sitios que él visitó (supuestamente), me gustaría tomar el tren transiberiano y recorrer parte de Rusia, China y Mongolia, ir a Japón (por el reiki) y, sobre todo Madagascar (Mogdasio).

Algunos apuntes del texto que me gustaron:

- "En esta Armenia Mayor es donde se encuentra el Arca de Noé en una alta montaña (el monte Ararat)".

- "En la zona limítrofe a la Georgia hay una fuente de la cual emana aceite en abundancia [¿petróleo?], de tal suerte que pueden cargarse cien naves a la vez pero no es comestible, más combustible y sirve para ungir los camellos contra la tiña y el forúnculo. Y los hombres vienen de muy lejos a recoger este aceite y en toda la comarca no se quema más que esta sustancia".

- "Los hombres son todos nobles y no se ocupan más que de caza y de cetrería. Las mujeres lo hacen todo, y sólo las ayudan los esclavos. Cuando las damas tienen un hijo varón lo lavan y lo envuelven en un pañal, y el marido se acuesta en la cama con el niño y se queda en ella durante cuarenta días, no levantándose más que para las precisas necesidades y amigos y parientes le vienen a ver y le hacen fiesta y solaz, y esto lo hacen porque dicen que sus mujeres han pasado fatigas llevando el niño en su vientre y no quieren que sufran cuarenta días. Pero la mujer, en cuanto ha parido, se levanta, hace todos los menesteres de la casa y sirve a su varón en la cama".

- "Todos los que tienen hospedería y albergue inscriben el nombre de los que hospeda y en qué día y mes han llegado. Así, el Gran Khan sabe quién entra y sale en su reino, y es cosa muy importante para un hombre prudente".

- "Ha ordenado que por las carreteras por donde pasa la posta, los mercaderes y los
peregrinos, se planten árboles, de dos en dos, a los lados del camino. Estos árboles
son tan grandes, que se ven de lejos. Y esto para que nadie pierda de vista la
carretera y no se aparte de ella. Y los encontraréis en regiones desiertas, muy útiles
para los viandantes, que no pierden el camino, y los hay en todas las provincias y
en todos los reinos".
Profile Image for Adrian.
251 reviews21 followers
November 24, 2016
The Travels of Marco Polo may be perhaps the most challenging travelogue ever put together. While Marco Polo was not the first to write about lands distant and alien to one’s own, he wrote of a journey of immense challenge and difficulty. Difficulty that is difficult to appreciate in our modern world.
First of all, the most notable controversy; was Maro Polo a fraud? This reader disagrees. While some regard it as suspect that he traveled to Yuan Dynasty China and did not mention the largely Han practice of foot binding, one needs to remember that he was employed in the court of Kubilai Khan, a Mongol Emperor who headed a very multicultural court.
While this reader is not a first class scholar of medieval China, the narrative through which Marco Polo describes the China of then corresponds somewhat to the cultural mosaic of today. While in the Southwest of China, he describes people of rather relaxed sexual practices, which have an eery similarity to the Naxi of Yunnan Province, he describes a religious mosaic that regularly alternates between either Christian, Muslim or, as he terms it, idolatory, he describes funerary practices, the choice of clothing, and dietary practices. Therefore, this reader rules favorably in the authenticity of Marco Polo’s account.
The book in itself is mainly a travelogue, and describes everywhere from Armenia and the Caspian Sea region, China, India, the Middle East, and in the final chapter, Russia.
Toward the end, the book becomes something of a commentary of the then current affairs, describing a conflict in what was then an area close to Russia’s frontier, and earlier parts of the book describe the conflict and intrigue in the court of the Great Khan. However, the book, for the most part, is a travelogue.
The book is an immensely entertaining and readable account. With just simple relaxation and the right approach, one feels themselves there with Marco Polo, exploring unknown lands, and traveling a greater distance traveled by no man since the creation, in the words of the introduction.
Marco Polo’s Travels, or to give it it’s actual title, Il Milione, is a timeless classic. A timeless work of inquiry and observation that is both intriguing and fascinating, and a pleasure for the soul.
Profile Image for Susan.
34 reviews
June 3, 2015
It took me forever to finish this. A massive book of facts without flesh. It was like reading a phonebook -- dry, repetitive, lacking depth and in need of a good editor. And every so often, you'd come across odd statements like this:

"But, now that we have embarked on this topic, we have had second thoughts about setting it down in writing; for after all it is very well known to many people. So let us drop the subject and start on another one…"

It was very strange to me how any traveler to these fascinating places could make them seem so dull.
Profile Image for El Bibliófilo.
161 reviews43 followers
November 8, 2021
Mis comentarios en video: https://youtu.be/5uf36oKTWZc

Germen y generador de historias.
Los viajes de Marco Polo (con los variados nombres el libro de las maravillas, millón, etc) nos presentan los relatos de los viajes del mercader veneciano por Asia, Medio Oriente, India, China, Indochina. Acá les presento la relación con Baudolino de Umberto Eco, la crítica de la mención de la Muralla China que sí encontré, no así la de comer insectos y que ojalá dejen sus comentarios, algunas imprecisiones pero también unas semejanzas que dan credibilidad a los viajes, en cómo nos presenta costumbres de verificación a largo plazo (luego no las comprobó sino las escuchó), mitos y leyendas de los lugares visitados y las batalla épicas (que es poco probable que presenciara, pero que le fueron referidas y afortunadamente nos las contó). Y también la reflexión que me generó frente a la gran p��rdida para la arqueología algunos ritos funerarios de Oriente. Finalmente, destaco cómo inspiró obras como la trilogía de Trajano, la película "Silencio", entre otras, pues el poder evocador de la obra como cimiento histórico para el intercambio cultural Oriente-Occidente es inconmensurable.
Espero se animen a leer el libro, ver el video y dejar sus comentarios.
Profile Image for Stacia.
834 reviews103 followers
September 26, 2015
I feel like my reading of this book has taken as long as Polo's travels! (Mostly, though, it was because I got sidetracked by the extensive footnotes & subsequent internet research on various topics found in Polo's book.)

Polo's tales are an eclectic mix of geography notes, merchant/business observations, descriptions of plants/animals/governments/cultural customs interspersed with strange & outrageous tales (many true) along with plenty of gossip & hearsay (plenty false). It's almost like a mix of a dry textbook, a National Geographic documentary, a royal edict, Twitter, & the National Enquirer stirred to create his unique story. The complete mish-mash of information & mix of the mundane with the extraordinary reminded me a bit of the structure & jumble of Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Even though some parts are repetitive or boring recitations of business/trading/government facts, there are a lot of gems & fantastic observations... enough to make me overlook the slower parts in favor of the rest of it. Five stars for Polo's sheer chutzpah in living his life large & telling about it so that, even today, we can still enjoy his amazing travels.
Profile Image for Nova.
184 reviews18 followers
October 14, 2020
هنوز شک هایی وجود دارد مبنی بر این که مارکوپولو اصلا پا فراتر از سمرقند نگذاشته باشد و در واقع، روایات و اسطوره های شرقی و آثار نویسنده های عربی منبع الهام و هیزم تخیل او بوده باشند.
نپرداختن به عناصر اصلی تمدن چین و هند از گواهان این گمانند؛ آنجا که نه سخنی از کشت وسیع چای رفته و نه کلمه ای از شیوه های منحصر بفرد ماهیگیری و زراعت چینیان؛ و اما در نیمی از سفرنامه با تکرار "ایمان، تقوا، عمل صالح"وار صفات و عباراتی برای تعمیم به سرزمین های پیموده (یا ناپیموده) سر و ته داستان را هم آورده بود .
سفرنامه ی مارکوپولو حتی در دوران خود چندان شناخته شده نبود و در مقایسه با سفرنامه های مشابه از سیاحانی که به مشرق زمین سفر کرده بودند (مانند دوماندویل)، از محبوبیت کمتری برخوردار بود. به عبارتی کسی آن را جدی نمیگرفت و این هم از صدقه سر حکایات هزراویکشبی مهیج لا به لای توصیفات بود که به نظر غیر واقعی می امدند.

شاید بشود گفت این کتاب تا حدودی جمع اضداد است. جذابیت هایی دارد و نقطه ضعف هایی هم. ارزش تاریخی بسیار دارد ولی ارزش ادبی اندک.
Profile Image for Dan.
335 reviews5 followers
April 13, 2009
Interesting for both it's accuracies and inaccuracies and the insight provided on the medieval point of view of foreign cultures. Unfortunately, Polo tends to simplify nearly every culture he encounters into one very large pot. In example, he seems to be under the impression that all 'idolaters' (read non-christians, non-muslims, non-jews) all follow one giant pan-asian religion. These kind of assumptions make a lot of his observations nearly useless, revealing more about the author than the subject.

Add to that the fact that a great deal of the information is based on hearsay and presented as unvarnished truth while being demonstrably false. Polo's assertion of a Mongol victory over the Tran Dynasty in what would become Vietnam is a good example of an outright falsehood present as truth.

Lastly, the writing style can be summarized as "This is what I'm going to tell you. This is what I'm telling you. This is what I just told you." Multiplied and repeated ad nauseam for every. single. subject. This combined with Polo's tendency to reuse entire passages applied to different subjects repeatedly makes for an often frustrating and uninteresting read.
Profile Image for Ehsan'Shokraie'.
627 reviews163 followers
January 29, 2019
خواندن این کتاب برای بار دوم هم بی نهایت لذت بخش بود, این ریویو رو یه بامداد بارانی از هواپیما مینویسم..گاهی ریویو ها هم داستان خودشون رو دارند.
Profile Image for Literarischunterwegs.
276 reviews36 followers
April 18, 2021
Marco Polo, Sohn einer venezianischen Händlerfamilie, ist ein Reisender in der Welt. Vater und Onkel, die ebenfalls Reisende waren, begründeten wohl sein Faible fürs Reisen.
Das Buch beinhaltet Marco Polos Reise in den Fernen Osten. Es stellt keine chronologische Abfolge da, sondern beschreibt einzelne Gebiete, Orte und Völker in ihren Lebensweisen.
Gegliedert ist das Buch in folgende Teile:
1. Einführung in das Buch – Die Beschreibung der Welt und Die Wunder der Welt“
Hier werden die Personen und Verwandtschaftskonstellationen sowie das Buch selbst vorgestellt.
2. Die Beschreibung von Klein – Armenien
Hier lernt der Leser die wichtigsten Personen, Landschaften, Städte, Lebensumstände sowie Sitten und Gebräuche kennen.
3. Das Buch über Indien, über seine Wunder und seine Menschen
Im Zentrum stehen die verschiedenen Königreiche, deren Herrscher und Schlachten.

Laut Wikipedia kam der Titel des Buches folgendermaßen zustande: (…) Der Titel der ursprünglichen Handschrift des Werkes war Französisch und lautete vermutlich Le livre de Marco Polo citoyen de Venise, dit Million, où l'on conte les merveilles du monde („Das Buch des Marco Polo, Bürger der Stadt Venedig, genannt Milione, worin von den Wundern der Welt berichtet wird“) (…)

Seine Reiseberichte sind nicht ohne Zweifel glaubwürdig, da sie wohl auch falsche und unklare Angaben enthalten. Die Wissenschaft streitet sich hier bis heute, um eine klare Aussage. Daher gilt das Buch noch immer als sehr umstritten.
Aber auch wenn dies so ist, so liest es sich sehr schön und wäre ich ein Autor von Märchen oder Fantacy-Büchern, wäre es mir ein schier unerschöpflicher Quell an Ideen.

Il Milione liest sich wie eine Verbindung aus Märchenbuch, Reisebericht, Personen- und Städteregister und Sach- und Geschichtsbuch. Ein bisschen erinnern mich die Berichte an die Reiseführer von Baedeker, bzw. all jene, die viel Kulturelles miteinfließen lassen.

Selbstredend ist zu erwähnen, dass dieses Werk nur ein Ausgangspukt sein kann für diejenigen, die sich eingängiger mit dieser Thematik beschäftigen möchten. Zu viele Aspekte bleiben zwangsläufig an der Oberfläche bzw. müssten genauer eruiert werden, wenn das Buch von Personen wie mir gelesen wird, deren geschichtlicher Hintergrund in diesem Bereich nicht so ausgereift ist, dass zu allem direkt Bezüge und reale Fakten während des Lesens erscheinen, die zum Gelesenen in Beziehung gesetzt werden können. Hin und wieder ploppten bei mir solche Aspekte auf, aber leider nicht durchgängig.
Profile Image for Metin Yılmaz.
1,003 reviews98 followers
August 7, 2021
Bizlere o zamanları anlattığı için çok kıymetl bir kitap. Her ne kadar her söylediği doğru olmasa da, anlatılanların bir kısmı diğer seyyahlar tarafından onaylanan olaylar. Tabi abartı olmazsa olmazı. Fakat bu inandırıcılığu etkileyen bir faktör olduğu kadar, yalanın hemen anlaşılmasına da fırsat veriyor. Bu tip bir abartıda hemen anlıyorsunuz ki o durum öyle değil.
Profile Image for Simon.
367 reviews71 followers
April 12, 2020
I finally got around to reading this after enjoying the hell out of Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, which functioned as a pastiche of not just this but mediaeval travelogues in general. It's very insightful into various East Asian cultures and states of the 13th century, despite the inevitable misunderstanding that a 13th century Italian would have had about those societies. For example: I was surprised to find out that Mongolia had as big and important a minority of Eastern Orthodox Christians back then. I also recognised some of the peoples Polo writes about as ancestors of modern day Burmese (the Mien) or Thai. (the Lokak) Interesting to see how much the same cultures have changed so much since then by comparing to their modern day national identities.

The descriptions of the many different architectural styles and landscapes that Polo encounters are quite beautiful and absolutely breathtaking. Remember that this was written centuries before mass media existed, so Polo had likely not seen any equivalent of many of those back home in Italy, and would have to describe in detail how different they were to his readers back home. Then we have the internal political conflict and martial exploits of the different East Asian noble families described, many of which read like something straight out of a Conan the Barbarian story to the point I would not be surprised if Robert E. Howard had been reading Marco Polo's travels for inspiration.

It's also noteworthy that when Marco Polo gets to India, it's clear the societies he encounters feel nowhere as alien to him as the ones he encountered in East Asia - perhaps because they descend from the same Proto-Indo-European cultural sphere as himself?
Profile Image for Ben.
10 reviews5 followers
March 4, 2013
Great historical source containing lots of (often literally) incredible first-hand information on the Mongol Empire, Kublai Kahn and large swathes of the Orient during that period. I really enjoyed reading Marco Polo's European perspective on the exotic and advanced cultures to the east and the detailed and vivid descriptions of the curious things he encountered. Its structure makes it fairly tiresome in places, with dozens of consecutive chapters dealing purely with descriptions of various cities Marco passed through and no narrative to tie them together, although there are enough fascinating curiosities dispersed throughout to make it readable.
Profile Image for Karolina Kat.
204 reviews52 followers
March 3, 2017
The Travels by Marco Polo are without question one of the most important texts of our culture. The text reveals not only how little the 13th century man knew about the world outside his own domain but also how he perceived the world around him. In Polo's work reality mixes with the perception of magical and unknown. All in all, a very enriching reading.
Profile Image for Gordan Karlic.
Author 1 book7 followers
June 28, 2018
Imagine reading this book in 14 century, Europe is filled with plague, sickness, death and here Marco Polo is describing worlds filled with riches and life.
I can only imagine how many people thought Marco Polo was lying (sure he exaggerated and not everything he said was true).
It must have been an amazing journey.
Profile Image for Adam  McPhee.
1,255 reviews178 followers
May 7, 2021
What more shall I tell you? The town consists of Saracens and idolaters with a few Nestorian Christians. The people use paper (or salt) for money and the idolaters burn their dead. They trade in zinc, oil, lamb and peat. Their king is very wealthy and pays a tribute to the Great Khan. There is a sort of monkey that lives in the forests that sounds like a parrot but is unable to bend its knees.

That's not actually a paragraph from The Travels, but I swear to god it could be. There's a few good parts but it gets very monotonous. I did a thread on the cool parts here.
2 reviews3 followers
March 6, 2020
Marco Polo described many different places in the east. The book went into great detail about these places and the people who lived there. The countries of the east had a lot of materials and animals. There were also large cities along with their laws that were described. The book describes the East in the 1500’s and is an accurate account of what Marco Polo. I enjoyed most of the book. I recommend you read it if you like books that go into great detail about countries and their laws.
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