Modern Reader

"Never trust anyone who has not

brought a book with them"

-Lemony Snicket

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville -  C. W. R. D. Moseley (Translator), John Mandeville

As a book from a mandatory reading list, coupled with the fact that it's a translation of the primary source, I did not expect to find this particularly enjoyable. That being said, my predominant reaction was absolute boredom, occasionally mingled with amusement at the sheer ridiculousness of the content. One minute Mandeville is writing about the ferocious lion then he's writing about the importance of being a pure Christian.


Of course, I don't expect anything different given the time period in which this was written. Granted, this book was the most popular manuscript, beating even The Canterbury Tales in terms of the number of preserved manuscripts. In addition to being turned off by the overzealous religiosity, I began reading the account with the knowledge that most of it was plagiarized from previous travel narratives and religious fiction.


The Travels of Sir John Mandeville was a hodgepodge of non-linear tales and, like many other narratives with underlying Christian lessons, it grouped Jewish and Muslim people into one group, damning them all for not following the "true God." In short, Medieval literature is amusing, but they were all whack, even if they didn't know it at the time.