What is the main message of The Travels of Marco Polo?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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From a historical point of view, the message seemed to be one of self- glorification and spiking the age of exploration that ended up defining much of world history.  Polo's writing reflects the interest in the exploration of "the Orient" and the areas that were not located in Europe.  His work was read by the likes of Christopher Columbus and other explorers.  The message that comes out of it is the idea that there is a world to be discovered and can be discovered.  To some extent, Polo was able to help capture an imagination around exploration, a sense of wonderment that horizons could be expanded and that vistas were limitless.  On the other hand, the book's primary message was one of domination and control.  Polo's work does not speak to the idea that the lands being sought were actually inhabited by indigenous people who had been there longer than the Europeans who landed there.  There is little discussion regarding respect and tolerance for these individuals.  Yet, this is not the primary concern or message out of Polo's work.  Rather, it is one that stresses the possibilities of looking outward, fostering a spirit of wonderment that feeds expansionist tendencies and hopes.

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