Marco Polo was the most famous traveller of his time. His voyages began in 1271 with a visit to China, after which he served Khubilai Khan on numerous diplomatic missions. On his return to the West he was made a prisoner of war and met Rustichello of Pisa, with whom he collaborated on this book.
His account of his travels offers a fascinating glimpse of what he encountered abroad: unfamiliar religions, customs and societies; the spices and silks of the East; the precious gems, exotic vegetation and wild beasts of faraway lands. Evoking a remote and long-vanished world with colour and immediacy, Marco’s book revolutionized western ideas about the then unknown East and is still one of the greatest travel accounts of all time.
For this edition – the first completely new English translation of the Travels in over fifty years – Nigel Cliff has gone back to the original manuscript sources to produce a fresh, authoritative new version. The volume also contains invaluable editorial materials, including an introduction describing the world as it stood on the eve of Polo’s departure, and examining the fantastical notions the West had developed of the East.
Marco Polo was born in 1254, joining his father on a journey to China in 1271. He spent the next twenty years travelling in the service of Khubilai Khan across China, Southeast Asia, and India. There is strong evidence that Marco travelled extensively in the Mongol Empire, and he was the first European to visit India since the classical age.
The Travels comes in a gorgeous foil-stamped clothbound edition designed by the award-winning Coralie Pickford-Smith, and in a standard Penguin Classics paperback. An excerpt from Nigel Cliff’s new translation is published as Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls in Penguin Little Black Classics.
“Although aimed primarily at a popular audience, it is in fact more or less a scholarly edition… The translation is excellent… It will doubtless become a standard work and will deservedly take its place as one of the best English translations of Marco Polo’s account of his travels.”
— Stephen G. Haw, China Review International