Travel Through Maps & Narratives: An Exhibit on Travel & Tourism
Sir John Mandeville is a figure of some debate. He is the author of the travel narrative The Voiage and Travayle of Sir John Mandeville, Knight. This first person account tells of a journey started in 1322, during which Mandeville traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. In his accounts, Mandeville describes many fantastical sights that have no basis in reality. It is probable that this book was not based on eyewitness accounts, but rather on an interpretation and synthesis of existing travel literature. Many question if John Mandeville existed at all. Despite its inaccuracies, John Mandeville’s book was one of the most widely read and distributed works of its time. It was translated into nine languages and has left 250 extant manuscripts. The earliest is a French version from 1357. The author claims to have reached the entrance to paradise as well as witnessed cyclops, dog-headed people, and cannibals. Mandeville’s narrative shows how the naivete of the general population produced a market for the distribution of fantastical travel narratives.