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By Kim M. Phillips

A unique ecu standpoint on Asia emerged within the past due center a while. Early studies of a homogeneous "India" of marvels and monsters gave strategy to money owed written by means of medieval tourists that indulged readers' interest approximately far-flung landscapes and cultures with no displaying the attitudes obvious within the later writings of aspiring imperialists. Mining the debts of greater than twenty Europeans who made—or claimed to have made—journeys to Mongolia, China, India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia among the mid-thirteenth and early 16th centuries, Kim Phillips reconstructs a medieval eu imaginative and prescient of Asia that used to be via turns severe, impartial, and admiring.

In providing a cultural heritage of the stumble upon among medieval Latin Christians and the far away East, Before Orientalism unearths how Europeans' winning preoccupations with foodstuff and consuming behavior, gender roles, sexualities, civility, and the international physique assisted in shaping their perceptions of Asian peoples and societies. Phillips offers specific recognition to the texts' identified or most likely audiences, the cultural settings in which they discovered a foothold, and the wider influence in their descriptions, whereas additionally contemplating the motivations in their writers. She unearths in wealthy aspect responses from ecu tourists that ranged from pragmatism to ask yourself. worry of army may possibly, admiration for prime criteria of civic lifestyles and court docket tradition, or even enjoy international beauty hardly assumed the type of secular Eurocentric superiority that will later signify Orientalism. putting medieval writing at the East within the context of an emergent "Europe" whose explorers sought to profit greater than to rule, Before Orientalism complicates our figuring out of medieval attitudes towards the foreign.

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Additional resources for Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writing, 1245-1510

Sample text

They were never more than part of the story, yet assertions of European superiority such as Samuel Purchas’s in 1613 (quoted below, pp. 63–64) may indicate the beginning of a sea change. His claims for European greatness are illustrative of the profound shift in consciousness wrought by European exploration and conquest of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. That supreme secular self-­confidence or ethnocentrism has few distant echoes in the writings of our medieval travelers (discussed further in Chapter 3), though confidence in religious rightness was second nature to medieval Latin Christians.

They were never more than part of the story, yet assertions of European superiority such as Samuel Purchas’s in 1613 (quoted below, pp. 63–64) may indicate the beginning of a sea change. His claims for European greatness are illustrative of the profound shift in consciousness wrought by European exploration and conquest of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. That supreme secular self-­confidence or ethnocentrism has few distant echoes in the writings of our medieval travelers (discussed further in Chapter 3), though confidence in religious rightness was second nature to medieval Latin Christians.

These included the anecdote (discussed in Chapter 6) concerning oriental peoples who offer their wives to travelers as part of their hospitality and another about the people who make a kind of pasta from the meal produced from sago trees. Filippino writes, the dish “is very good and master Marco tasted it several times. ”53 The Divisament appealed in various ways to its diverse readers. ”54 While some readers sought epic elements, others involved in European-­Asian trade may have been drawn to the book’s lists of places, natural resources, and commodities such as salt, silk, and spices.

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