Marco Polo: "From Peking to Bengal" Book Review by H

Marco Polo: "From Peking to Bengal"
An examination of the validity of the fourth chapter entitled, "From Peking to Bengal," from Marco Polo's "Description of the World."
# 114264 | 2,771 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2006 | US
Published on Jun 04, 2009 in History (Asian) , Literature (World) , Literature (Italian) , Asian Studies (General)

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This paper discusses the fourth chapter from Marco Polo's "Description of the World," entitled "From Peking to Bengal," which describes his voyage throughout Cathay. The writer compares the different versions of the fourth chapter and explains where it is accurate and where it is not. Parts that are either second-hand accounts or later editorial additions are also identified. The writer explains why it is unlikely that Polo actually reached Bengal, and why, based on the accuracy of the societal customs as verified by other sources, he was in Tibet, Kaindu and Zar-dandan. The paper concludes that, based on the fourth chapter, it seems that Marco Polo did, in fact, visit most of the regions that he discusses.

From the Paper:

"The fourth chapter relies heavily on the R and Z manuscripts. Many of the details in the battle between Kublai Khan and the King of Mien and Bengal and the legend of the Golden King are found only in the R or Z manuscripts. Although there are discrepancies in some of the accounts in the fourth chapter, it is mainly accurate. In all likelihood Polo visited a number of the sites that he lists. As for the inaccuracies, they are probably caused by second-hand accounts of areas that Polo did not visit himself. The description of the bridge in the beginning is mostly accurate when compared to the bridge as it stands today. As for Bengal, it is unlikely that Polo actually traveled there because if he had done so he would not have misidentified it as a part of China. Similarly the legend concerning the Golden King and Prester John is either completely a second-hand account or added by later editors."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Flath, James A. "Setting Moon and Rising Nationalism: Lugou Bridge as Monument and Memory". International Journal of Heritage Studies Vol 10. [2] (2004): 175-192.
  • Latham, Ronald. Marco Polo The Travels. England: Penguin Books, 1958.
  • Pelliot, Paul. Notes on Marco Polo. Paris: Impr. Nationale, 1959.
  • Rossabi, Morris. Khubilai Khan: his life and times. Berkley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • Wood, Francis. Did Marco Polo Go to China? Colorado: Westview Press, 1996.

Cite this Book Review:

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