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The Travels of Marco Polo: A Legend of the East

February 26, 2022 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

2022 marks the 530th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. Sponsored and dispatched by the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Columbus led a fleet of three ships on August 3, 1492 to sail west to search for a direct sea route to reach Asia as an alternative to the overland trade routes. On October 12 of that year, the ships made landfall—not in Asia, as Columbus assumed, but on San Salvador in the Bahamas. Subsequently he made three more voyages to the New World in 1493, 1498 and 1502, reaching the Caribbeans, and Central and South Americas. Although Columbus always maintained that he had reached the Far East, he never set foot in Asia.

One of the reasons that arose Columbus’s interest in traveling to the East is the famed Travels of Marco Polo, an account of the author’s travels to China in the 13th century that held Columbus spellbound in his childhood. Columbus treasured the book so much that he brought along a copy on his first cross-Atlantic journey.

Travels of Marco Polo fascinated not only Columbus, not also a host of other famous European navigators in the Age of Exploration, including Amerigo Vespucci, from whose name the term “America” is derived, Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first recorded circumnavigation of the earth in 1519, Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India by way of Cape of Good Hope, and the 15th century cosmographer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, who was the first to create a map showing a westward sea route to China and subsequently passed it to Columbus to carry on his first voyage. Marco Polo’s travelogue generated in the West an immense interest in and yearning for Asia in general and China in particular. 

To learn about Marco Polo’s travels to China and the impact he made, the Renwen Society presents a lecture on February 26 by Prof. Jia Hongyan, an expert on tourism who will discuss Marco Polo’s storied journey to the East, what he saw and experienced in China, and how the legendary book was brought back to China.

A professor and Director of the Institute of Cultural Tourism at the Southeast University in Nanjing, Dr. Jia Hongyan specializes in cultural heritage tourism, literary tourism, and history of tourism with extensive publications on the subjects.

Free, but advanced registration is requested.

2022年适逢哥伦布到达新大陆530周年。1492年8月3日,出生于意大利热那亚的克里斯托弗•哥伦布(1451-1506)衔西班牙统治者伊莎贝拉一世与费尔南多二世之命,率3艘船只从帕洛斯港出航,横渡大西洋,10月12日抵达巴哈马群岛的一个小岛,哥伦布将其命名为“圣萨尔瓦多”;其后,又三次西航,抵牙买加、波多黎哥诸岛及中美、南美洲大陆沿岸地带。哥伦布的航海开启了欧洲与美洲持续的接触,不过,哥伦布本人却终其一生都认为自己抵达的是亚洲,而“误导”他的“罪魁”之一是成书于13世纪的一部游记——《马可•波罗游记》。哥伦布极其珍爱这部读物。 1492年首航时,哥伦布不仅带着一本《马可•波罗游记》,还带着一封西班牙国王正式致蒙古大汗的国书和两份空白的备用国书;他抵达美洲东海岸后,还按图索骥地去寻找“行在”(杭州),以为古巴就是游记中所提到的“吉潘各”(日本国)。




February 26, 2022
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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