You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Sculpture of Genghis Khan at Marble Arch, London
(The Khan Mandeville writes about would have been
generations removed from Genghis.)
For truly under the firmament there is no lord so great nor so rich as the Great Khan of Tartary. Not even Prester John, Emperor of Greater and Lesser India, nor the Sultan of Babylon, nor the Emperor of Persia, nor anyone else can be compared to him. Truly, it is a great pity that he is not a Christian; nevertheless he will gladly hear men speak of God and allow Christian men to live in his empire. For in his land no man is forbidden to believe in whatever religion it pleases him to believe. And if some men perhaps will not believe me about what I will have said, and say it is all fable, what I say about the nobleness and the excellence and riches of the Great Khan and his court, and the multitude of men there that I told of, I do not really care. But let the man who will, believe it; and leave him alone who will not. I shall nevertheless say something of what I saw with my own eyes, whether they will believe it or not... Nevertheless I well know that if anyone had been there (or in the countries that border his land, if he had not been to his court), he would have heard so much of his nobility and his excellence that he would easily believe what I myself have said. So I am not going to stop telling you things that I know are true because of those that are ignorant of them or will not believe them.

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
Translated by C.W. R. D Moseley
Penguin Edition.

(Click of Italics label for more annotated readings.)

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