150 pages, paperback
Here is the convincing, unscholarly, tale of Marco Polo’s courtship of Golden Bells, the daughter of Kubla Khan, of his journey from Venice, “Bride of the East,” to the courts of Cathay, seen through the eyes and told in the brogue of the old Ulster Scotch-Irishman, Malachi of the Glens.
Messer Marco Polo
is a panoramic tapestry, richly woven of medieval colours, sights and smells, the ivory, apes and peacocks of a lost romance. But beneath the sweetness and light there is the terror and tragedy of “the whistling and clangor of the stars as they shot by in
their orbits.” There is maturity and irony as well as freshness.
When Messer Marco Polo
appeared in 1921 it charmed the critics; now it is set to captivate a whole new generation nearly a century later.
A ‘magically beautiful book’
- James Branch Cabell
Israeli composer Max Stern adapted the novel into an opera.
Donn Byrne - Donn Byrne’s life was as paradoxical and romantic as his writing. Although he was a champion of Ireland and its literature, he was an Orangeman born in Brooklyn (in 1889). However, after three months his family returned to Ireland and he was raised in County Antrim. He received his MA from Dublin University, where he carried off prizes in Gaelic and the lightweight boxing championship. Thereafter he studied at the Sorbonne and in Leipzig, punched cows and wrote verse in South America (with the idea of becoming a cowboy poet), and finally emigrated to New York, where he married Dorothea Cadogan, daughter of a sea captain. Their house on Brooklyn Heights, facing New York Harbor, became the focus of the New York branch of the American literary renaissance (“a gang of howling literary brigands” that included Joyce Kilmer and Don Marquis). In 1921 Messer Marco Polo brought him fame and fortune. He met his death in a tragic automobile accident in 1928.
Anthony Lejeune - Award winning broadcaster, journalist and author, read classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was an exhibitioner in Greek.