Marco Polo

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Topic 2: In the Prologue to The Travel of Marco Polo the author claims that his book is "an accurate record"�, free from any sort of fabrication"�. Is this Statement true? How reliable and useful is this book as a source of historical information (Support your answer with evidence from the primary sources)? Marco Polo has discovered much of central Asia. Over the years many manuscripts, evolve around the controversial issue, on whether Marco Polo did go to China. How accurate his account and reliability can this be as a source of historical information? In this essay I will distinguish the accuracy, the extent of the reliability of this source, and the principle arguments of Marco's credibility.

Firstly, with regards to the reliability of this source "The Travels of Marco Polo"�, one must first understand how it was written. Generally, it was not written like a real travelogue, but rather like a typical courtly romance.

Having being dictated it to Rusticello of Pisa while the two were in prison together in Genoa during the year 1298 (Latham 1958:33), who is no other than a narrator of Arthurian romances, who followed the convention ways of courtly romances with the opening of "Emperors and kings, dukes and marquises, counts, knights, and townspeople"�(Marco Polo The Travel of Marco Polo extract: 1) is identical to the beginning to his own heroic tales (Wood 1995:41) than the words of a season traveler like Marco himself (Spence 1998:5). It is possible that more of Rusticello's style found its way into the book, in the form of exaggerations and stories to make the book seem more exciting, for example "their book is full of strange and wondrous tales and huge quantities"� (Wood 1995:42). It would not be a surprise if Rusticello was behind many of the...