Prodigies

Patrick O’Brian

  • The Travels of Mendes Pinto by Fernao Mendes Pinto, translated by Rebecca Catz
    Chicago, 663 pp, £39.95, October 1989, ISBN 0 226 66951 3
  • The Grand Peregrination by Maurice Collis
    Carcanet, 313 pp, £12.95, February 1990, ISBN 0 85635 850 9

Anyone who has travelled even as far as Paris, threading with more or less success the Kafkaesque corridors of Heathrow or God preserve us Gatwick, will agree that a man’s soul has to be riveted to his body to survive it. What then are we to say to Fernao Mendes Pinto, who travelled with scarcely a pause except for being captured 13 times and 17 times sold into slavery, going from the Ethiopia of Prester John to the Japan of the Daimyos and St Francis Xavier?

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