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  • The Pleasure of He Who Longs to Cross the Horizons November 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval , trackback

    ancient library shelf

    A good book title should be like a good wine. It sits on your tongue and then spreads and then evokes… And there can be no genre of scholarly writing that evokes better than geography and travel literature the discoveries of those who, to respectfully rephrase one of the titles below, dared the horizon. Beach has chosen here his twenty favourite titles from ancient and medieval Euro-Asia-Africa. Greek and Roman titles were supposed to be the mainstay, but they disappointed (perhaps because they are so familiar?). Instead the bulk of titles here are from Arab, Chinese and Persian libraries: medieval Europe was a bit of a disappointment too. Many of these works no longer exist, they are, in other words, just titles in larger collections. But who cares? What matters here are the neuron charges that are fired in the head by putting various words like ‘world’, ‘realm’, ‘land’ together. Can anyone help bring the list up to thirty?drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Rules are simple: genuine titles from the ancient or medieval word that give the reader the frisson of distance and exploration.

    Book of Routes and Realms
    Classics of Mountain and Sea
    Descent into the Cave of Trophonius
    Handy Geographical Maps throughout the Ages [banal but loved the ‘handy’]
    Illustrated Treatise on the Sea Kingdoms
    Map of the Resounding Teaching of the Khan Prevailing All Over the World
    Monuments of the Lands
    Notes from the Lands Beyond the Passes
    Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax
    Sea Routes to the Outer non-Chinese Peoples
    Shortened Account of the Non Chinese Island Peoples
    The Gift to Those Eager to Observe the Wonders of Cities and Marvels of Journeys
    The Map of Integrated Regions and Terrains and of Historical Countries and Capitals
    The Map of the Climates
    The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
    The Pleasure of He Who Longs To Cross the Horizons
    The Sea of Jade
    The Tracks of Yu
    Treatise on the Great Unified Realm of the Great Yuan
    Ways of Perception Concerning the Most Populous Provinces

    Also just to pre-empt some critics. The Descent into the Cave of Trophonius was written by a Greek (Dicaearchus) with geographical interests, but probably was a polemic about a religious cult. However, as it doesn’t exist Beach can pioneer the bold idea that it was actually the first treatise on speleology and hence welcome in our list. It sounds promisingly like the notes for a Dungeon and Dragons scenario or some rocky 1970s science fiction where men whose names begin with ‘z’, ‘x’ and dipthongs do battle with laser grenades.