Marco Polo's China: A Venetian in the Realm of Khubilai Khan

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Routledge, Nov 22, 2006 - History - 224 pages
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Marco Polo’s famous book about his journey to China, written in 1298, continues to be a subject of considerable controversy. One recent work on the subject argues that Marco Polo never went to China at all, and other scholars have pointed out apparent mistakes and important omissions in Marco’s writings, including his failure to mention the Great Wall, and his apparently erroneous description of the course of the Yellow River.

Haw re-examines Marco Polo’s writings. The main arguments against his credibility have been negative, concentrating on things that it is argued he should have seen and noted but did not. The most serious of these supposed omissions are generally said to be his failure to describe the Chinese writing system, tea, foot-binding and the Great Wall of China. Yet Haw argues that what he does mention is impressive and argues strongly for his veracity. This book clarifies Marco Polo’s itineraries in China and proposes several new identifications of places mentioned.

Relying extensively on original Chinese sources and supplemented by Haw’s wide knowledge of China, Marco Polo’s China presents a convincing argument and concludes that his work is an accurate, important and useful source from an extraordinary period of Chinese history.

 

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Contents

Lies or truth?
1
1 China before the Mongol conquest
8
2 The Mongols and their conquests
27
3 The journey and the writing of the book
40
4 No Great Wall?
52
5 Cities canals and rivers
68
6 Marcos journeys in China part 1 the route into China
82
7 Marcos journeys in China part 2 Khanbalikh to Caragian and Mien
94
9 Rhubarb musk cranes and other creatures
124
10 Wine women and poison
147
11 Military affairs
159
12 A unique life and legacy
169
Notes
180
List of Chinese words and characters
181
Bibliography
195
Index
204

8 Marcos journeys in China part 3 Giogiu to Çaiton
108

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About the author (2006)

Stephen G Haw read Chinese at the University of Oxford and has an MA degree from the University of London. He first visited China in 1980 and lived in the country for two years as a student and teacher at the University of Shandong. He has since travelled extensively around the country. He is the author of numerous articles and several books.

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