“Not Fit for Any Other Pursuit”: Shifting Places, Shifting Identities in Ludovico de Varthema’s Itinerario

  • Supriya Chaudhuri
Part of the New Transculturalisms, 1400–1800 book series (NETRANS)


The Bolognese traveller Ludovico de Varthema claimed to be the first European to visit Mecca and Medina, and his travels in India, especially in regions controlled by the Portuguese, were crucial in producing both the cartographic image and the material testimony that drew the first English travellers to India. His Itinerario (1510) achieved extraordinary popularity and was translated by Richard Eden for his History of Travayle (1577). Varthema also provided, for English readers, a new kind of travelling persona, an identity prone to shifts and disguises, emphasizing bodily travails, and impelled not so much by commercial or religious interests as by curiosity and the desire for novelty. Varthema’s book thus consciously places the travel narrative midway between the literature of pleasure and the literature of knowledge.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Supriya Chaudhuri
    • 1
  1. 1.Jadavpur UniversityKolkataIndia

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