Sir John Mandeville mid-fourteenth century Criticism - Essay

Malcolm Letts (essay date 1949)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Times," in Sir John Mandeville: The Man and His Books, The Batchworth Press, 1949, pp. 23-40.

[In the excerpt below, Letts describes the historical context in which Mandeville wrote and remarks on his critical reception and influence on other writers.]

Before we come to the journey itself, it may be well to sketch in outline the historical background against which Mandeville lived and wrote. During practically the whole period covered by the so-called travels England and France were at war. The Hundred Years' War broke out in 1338. Crécy was won in 1346, Calais was taken in 1347, and at Poitiers, in 1356, the French King was taken prisoner. Mandeville...

(The entire section is 4012 words.)

Zoltán Haraszti (essay date 1950)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Travels of Sir John Mandeville," in The Boston Public Library Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 4, October, 1950, pp. 307-16.

[In the following essay, Haraszti provides an overview of Mandeville's Travels, remarking on the subjects treated in the account, the identity of its author, and the work's sources and textual history.]

At the Kreisler Sale held in New York on January 1949 the Boston Public Library acquired a number of extremely valuable fifteenth-century and other early printed books. One of the most valuable among them was a copy of the German translation of the Travels of John Mandeville—Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte...

(The entire section is 3521 words.)

Josephine Waters Bennett (essay date 1954)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Transformation of the Materials" and "The Romance of Travel," in The Rediscovery of Sir John Mandeville, The Modern Language Association of America, 1954, pp. 26-38, 39-53.

[In the following excerpt, Bennett compares Mandeville's Travels with the account of Odoric of Pordenone's travels, from which Mandeville borrowed extensively, and argues that Mandeville's text is far richer because his imagination and literary skills brought the materials to life.]

Mandeville has been called a forger, a "mere plagiarist," and even a "mere translator." His debt to William of Boldensele has been somewhat exaggerated, although it is real enough; but his borrowings...

(The entire section is 10038 words.)

M. C. Seymour (essay date 1967)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Mandeville's Travels, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1967, pp. xiii-xxi.

[In the excerpt below, Seymour comments on style and structure in Mandeville's Travels and places the work in the context of medieval literature.]

Mandeville's Travels was written in French on the Continent, possibly at Liège and probably not by an Englishman, about 1357. Nothing else is known, and little more can be inferred, about the immediate origins of the book. None of the various attempts to pierce the author's anonymity, which began in the fourteenth century at Liège and which have successively associated the book with Jean de Bourgogne, a...

(The entire section is 2577 words.)

Christian K. Zacher (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Pilgrim as Curious Traveler: Mandeville's Travels," in Curiosity and Pilgrimage: The Literature of Discovery in Fourteenth-Century England, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976, pp. 130-57.

[In the following excerpt, Zacher presents an overview of Mandeville's Travels, focusing on Mandeville's treatment of the Holy Land, and argues that the work is worth interest because of "its peculiar attitude toward pilgimage and exploration, its intricate sturcture, and its sophisticated point of view. "]

Mandeville's Travels was internationally popular in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (over 250 manuscript versions of it...

(The entire section is 14853 words.)

C. W. R. D. Moseley (essay date 1982)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, Penguin Books, 1982, pp. 9-39.

[In the following excerpt, Moseley discusses the work's author, reputation, values, and sources. The critic contends that the popularity of Mandeville' s Travels demands that the work be given serious attention if scholars want to understand the world view of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.]

When Leonardo da Vinci moved from Milan in 1499, the inventory of his books included a number on natural history, the sphere, the heavens—indicators of some of the prime interests of that unparalleled mind. But out of the multitude of travel accounts that Leonardo could have...

(The entire section is 11955 words.)

Mary B. Campbell (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "'The Other Half': Mandeville Naturalizes the East," in The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400-1600. Cornell, 1988, pp. 122-61.

[In the excerpt below, Campbell argues that Mandeville's Travels was a parody and an early precursor of the modern novel.]

With Mandeville's Travels, the developing genre of travel literature in the West reaches a complicated and long-sustained climax. The book's popularity has been greater than that of any other prose work of the Middle Ages, and its practical effects farther reaching.1 To investigate the reach and nature of its artistic effects, it will be necessary first...

(The entire section is 17044 words.)