The Invention of the Eyewitness: Witnessing and Testimony in Early Modern France
In an examination of eyewitness travel writing in thirteenth- through sixteenth-century France, Andrea Frisch studies the figure of the witness at a historical juncture and in a cultural context in which that figure is generally thought to have begun to assume a recognizably modern form and function.
Whereas most accounts of early modern travel literature tend to read modern presuppositions about witnessing and testimony back into the material, Frisch approaches the early modern witness in terms of the cultural legacy of the Middle Ages. Through primary readings in law and theology, Frisch documents the tension between the ethical witness (the characteristic witness of premodernity) and the epistemic witness (the modern witness) and explores the impact of that tension on the figure of the witness in pre- and early modern French-language travel literature.
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For the Renaissance historian , the Polos ' assimilation of Tartar culture only
reinforces the authenticity of Marco Polo ' s account of his twenty - six years in
Asia . He blames scribal error for Polo ' s reputation as a liar , and believes that
... s depiction of Asia was old news to his medieval audience , then , this
depiction does not appear to have been the primary basis upon which the
medieval public made judgments about his credibility In order to counter
Critchley ' s view that ...
As Polo ( or rather his scribe , the writer of romances Rustigielo ) reports , he went
to Asia when he was about seventeen years old ; he didn ' t return to the West
until he was past forty . Thus , at the time he dictated his account of the East to his
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THE WITNESS AND THE JUDGE
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