Author: Jehan de Mandeville
Title: The Travels
Destination: some of Europe, Africa and Asia
Length: 34 years
The real Baudolino
The story: Much like Marco Polo before him or Johann Schiltberger shortly after, or Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuda at the same time, JDM also claims to have traveled around much of the known (and unknown) world of his time. Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, India, China – you name the place, and he almost surely can tell you a story about it.
telling fantastic stories
And while his historical persona is still subject to scientific debate, most of his descriptions are even more fantastic and incredible than the ones by his contemporaries.
Jehan de Mandeville – the prototype for Umberto Eco’s novel?
You can probably already tell that I found this book a lot of fun. To me, it felt like a blueprint to some of the core elements of Umberto Eco’s 2000 novel „Baudolino“, which I thought was awesome. Within JDM’s account, there are even descriptions of those weird people who have only one leg and one huge foot, and they can extend this foot above their heads as a sunshade. Cool stuff!
entertaining Medieval account
Obviously, this is not a travelogue, but rather a mixed work, and it cannot be understood as a pure recount of JDM’s personal experiences. Instead, it is a representation of the mythical world that Medieval people thought might be out there.
And as such, it is highly entertaining.