MANDEVILLE, Sir John (supposed fl. ca 1357) - LAYARD, Arthur (fl. 1894-1911). The Marvellous Adventures of Sir John Maundevile Kt. Being his Voyage and Travel which treateth of the Way to Jerusalem and of the Marvels of Ind with other Islands and Countries Edited and profusely illustrated by Arthur Layard With a Preface by John Cameron Grant. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co., 1895.
Large 8vo., (10 x 6 2/8 inches). Half-title, title-page printed in red and black. Frontispiece and 25 full-page wood-engraved plates on Japon, illustrated throughout with red and black vignettes and initials, all by Arthur Layard (some minor occasional spotting). Fine 20th-century full tan calf, gilt, top edges gilt, others uncut.
Limited edition, number 96 of 100 copies initialled by the publisher, and AN ATTRACTIVE COPY. Some of Layard's illustrations were first published to accompany an article about Sir John Mandeville in "The Pall Mall Magazine" in February of 1894. Based on the text of the Cottonian manuscript first published in 1725, first appearing anonymously as "Voyages de Jehan de Mandeville chevalier" in France in about 1357.
"In the book the narrator declares that he is Sir John Mandeville, born and bred in St Albans, who left England in 1322 and travelled the world for many years, serving the sultan of Cairo and visiting the Great Khan, and finally in 1357 in age and illness setting down his account of the world. This account is essentially in two parts, a description of the Holy Land and the routes thither and a description of Asia and other partes infidelium. There is no historical corroboration of the author's claims. On the contrary, nine-tenths of the substance of the Voyages can be precisely traced to written sources, which range from Pliny to Vincent of Beauvais and include many itineraries of genuine travellers like William of Boldensele and Odoric of Pordenone, and the remaining tenth almost certainly derives from sources yet to be traced. The intention of the author to produce a popular account of the world in French was possibly part of the fashion for such exotica that flourished in and about Paris c.1350. Though the framework of the narration by Sir John Mandeville is fictitious, the substance is not. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the author reported in good faith what his authorities recorded and that his book was seriously intended" (DNB). Catalogued by Kate Hunter