As a medieval travel narrative, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville was immensely popular for everyone from bookworms to world travelers in 14th and 15th century Europe. Given its popularity, and the period in which it was produced, one might expect the fictitious travelogue to display an incredible level of intolerance towards the various peoples and cultures it depicts. However, the Travels frequently surprises modern readers with its message of tolerance towards greater humanity, and its recognition of the universality of human experience as it is mirrored in the lives of people of different ethnic and cultural groups. In order to understand Mandeville’s radical efforts to relate tales of the wider world through a relativistic lens, one must explore strange material, such as tales of geese that grow on trees, as well as the concept of sky burials. Mandeville's account can open our eyes to the cultural sensitivity that was thinkable in the medieval period, and what such sensitivity can teach us today.

Class Associated With Work

EN 312 Medieval English Literature, Honors Contract


English graduate bound, French

Document Type

Scholarly Article

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