This book investigates how the idea of the ‘east’ emerged in western travel narratives between the 13th and the 18th centuries. Sifting through critical travel narratives — real and imagined — it locates the changing geography as well as the perceptions surrounding India. The author presents how historical stereotypes interacted with a burgeoning demand for travelogues during this period and have fed into the way we think about Asia in general, and India in particular. From the mythical travels of Prester John to the enigmatic ‘adventures’ of Marco Polo, from the fraught voyages of Johannes Plano de Carpini to the missionary zeal of Friar Odoric of Pordenone and William of Rubruquis, this volume traces the history of the ‘Orient’ as it was understood by the west.
A major intervention in understanding how popular narratives shape history, this book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of history, medieval history, history of travel, world literature, postcolonial studies, and general readers interested in travel narratives.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. Introduction 1. The Imagined Lands 2. Locating the East 3. Exploring the East 4. Defining the East 5. Recasting the East 6. Anchoring the ‘Orient’ Select Bibliography. Index.
Radhika Seshan retired as Professor and Head, Department of History, Savitribai Phule Pune University (formerly University of Pune), India, in July 2019, and is now Visiting Professor at the Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts, Pune. She has several publications including Trade and Politics on the Coromandel Coast: Seventeenth to Early Eighteenth Centuries (2012) and Ideas and Institutions in Medieval India: Eighth to Eighteenth Centuries (2013), as well as various edited volumes.