Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Marco's Imagination

Penguin have launched a range of sample books called Little Black Classics (80p)
giving you bit size books by authors that you might have be nervous of when faced with one of their classic tombs.  Was in the Press Book Shop last month and picked up a few,
Travels in the Land of Serpents and Pearls
Marco Polo born 1254 Venice, died 1324 Venice

Now he wrote this 'Travels' from which this book is taken, while in prison in Genoa after having spent twenty-four years in Asia as an important agent for the Kublai Khan.
Its a strange book, that felt more like pure fantasy at times than a travelogue that we are used to today, read this section and you will see exactly what I mean!!!
Diamonds are also produced in this Kingdom, and we will tell you how.  You should know that in this kingdom there are mountains in which diamonds are found, as you will hear.  For you should know that when it rains the water rushes down through these mountains, cascading wildly along vast ravines and caverns.  And when the rain has stopped and the water has drained away the men head out into the ravines through which the water has flowed in search of diamonds, which they find plenty. In summer, when there is not a drop of water to be found here, they uncover plenty in the mountains themselves.  The heat, though, is so intense as to be all but intolerable.  And let me tell you that these mountains are so heavily infested with great fat serpents that men cannot go there without fearing for their lives.  But all the same they make their way as best they can and find some very fine, large diamonds.  I can also tell you that these serpents are highly venomous and vicious, so men do not dare enter the caves where these vicious serpents live.  And again I can tell you that the men extract the diamonds by other means.  You should know that there are great, deep valleys whose rocky sides are so steep that no one can penetrate them.  But I will tell you what the men do. They take some lumps of bloody meat and fling them down into the depth of the valley; and the places where the meat is flung are littered with diamonds, which become embedded in the flesh.  Now the fact is that many white eagles live among these mountains and prey on the serpents.  And when these eagles see the meat lying at the bottom of the valleys, they swoop down, seize the lumps and carry them off. The men, meanwhile, have been carefully watching where the eagles go, and as soon as they see that one has alighted and is swallowing the meat they rush over as fast as they can.  the eagles are so fearful of the men who have surprised them that they fly off and fail to take the meat. And when the men reach the place where the meat is, they pick it up and find it studded with diamonds.

It wasn't till later than a knowledgeable friend  told me 'Travels' was basically marketing, that it all made sense.  He was trying to raise capitol to fund trade trips back out to Asia
and so was doing what advertising/travel/marketing guys always doing,
bigging up the product, seeing it through rose tinted glasses, etc
Though I really don't think he would get a publisher today!

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