NB: This text was originally posted to soc.culture.mongolian in December 1996 but the author thinks the referenced information may be useful for some, at least.

Dear Readers,

The question whether Marco Polo really was at the Yuan court in China or not has been discussed recently, and there are certainly sincere arguments on both sides.

I do not wish to restart that debate. Instead, I just want to mention the Chinese translation of "Marco Polo's Travels" which I happened to spot on the shelves of my library. I opened it and had to find out that I had bought the book 13 years ago. so it's not a new book.

"Make Boluo Youji", a translation by Chen Kaijun, Dai Shuying, Liu Zhenqiong and Lin Jian. 281 p. Published by Fujian Science and Technology Publishing (Fujian Kexue Jishu Chubanshe), Fuzhou, Deguixiang 27 hao, (1981) 1982. Second edition, total printing volume 40,900.

The book is a translation from English, The Travels of Marco Polo (The Venetian), ed. with introduction by Manuel Komroff, illustrations by Witold Gordon, Garden City Publishing Co., Garden City, New York. (c) 1926 and 1930.

I found the book interesting for several reasons: 1) Throughout the book, all personal and geographical names are first rendered in Chinese, then in romanized version. Thus, the modern days Hangzhou can easily be associated with its former name Jingshi and Marco Polo's Kin-sai.

2) The book is not a slavish translation of the original. The lengthy foreword of the original is omitted altogether (the translators justify this act with numerous repetitions of facts from the main part) but there are numerous footnotes throughout the text giving more information on names, places etc. Sometimes obviously misconceived facts are corrected in this way.

3) The book was translated shortly after China's beginning of the Opening Policy. The beginning of the 1980 saw the production of a multi-part TV series on Marco Polo's travels (I think it was even an Italian-Chinese coproduction - I may be mistaken). The author of the foreword, Shang Ming, praises Marco Polo "as the builder of the bridge of friendship on which the two nation's peoples will walk for eternity. Suzhou and Venice hae become partner cities. The flower of friendship will blossom forever on the soil of the two nations."

The unusually high printing volume indicates a vague chance that one can still find the book somewhere (more by accident, I am afraid...). Also, some libraries may have it.

Sincerely yours,

Oliver Corff.