Marco Polo (/ˈmɑrkoʊ ˈpoʊloʊ/; Italian pronunciation: [ˈmarko ˈpɔːlo]; c. 1254 -- January 9, 1324) was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently met Kublai Khan. In 1269, they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time. The three of them embarked on an epic journey to Asia, returning after 24 years to find Venice at war with Genoa; Marco was imprisoned, and dictated his stories to a cellmate. He was released in 1299, became a wealthy merchant, married and had 3 children. He died in 1324, and was buried in San Lorenzo.
Their pioneering journey inspired Christopher Columbus and others. Marco Polo's other legacies include Venice Marco Polo Airport, the Marco Polo sheep, and several books and films. He also had an influence on European cartography, leading to the introduction of the Fra Mauro map.
Books of the Marvels of the World (French: Livres des merveilles du monde) or Description of the World (Divisament dou monde), also nicknamed Il Milione ("The Million") or Oriente Poliano and commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing the travels of the latter through Asia, Persia, China, and Indonesia between 1271 and 1291.
It was a very famous and popular book, even in the 14th century. The text claims that Marco Polo became an important figure at the court of the Mongol leader Kublai Khan. However, modern scholars debate how much of the account is accurate and some have questioned whether or not Marco Polo ever actually traveled to the court or was just repeating stories that he had heard from other travellers. The book was written in Old French by Rustichello da Pisa, a romance author of the time, who was reportedly working from accounts which he had heard from Marco Polo when they were imprisoned in Genoa having been captured while on a ship. A 1937 book titled "The History of the United States", by Willam B Guitteau, offers the following claim, "Returning home at last, Marco Polo subsequently became a political prisoner in Genoa; and to while away the time wrote the story of his travels. This book was first printed in 1477; it was read critically by Christopher Columbus and a copy with marginal notes by the great navigator may still be seen in the Columbian Library at Seville."
This audio collection contains a treasury of 100 classic books and includes info on the life and times of the author, the theme of the book, the characters, the story outline, a concise yet detailed abridgement of the story and a discussion of the values that make each book one of the great classical works of literature.
© ''IntelliQuest World's 100 Greatest Books'' 1995
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