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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The ethical transformation of the erstwhile Venetians , we are made to
understand , is proof of the depth of Polo ' s experience in the Mongol empire .
Polo ' s medieval readers were , by contrast , notoriously skeptical of his account .
An early ...
Polo , by contrast , survives in around 150 medieval manuscripts , and only really
took off in print , with twenty - four ... John Critchley attributes the lack of influence
of Marco Polo ' s travel account to its supposedly conventional character , and ...
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