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coryat

Coryat's Crudities

Coryat's Crudities: Hastily gobled up in Five Moneth's Travels was a gastronomic travelogue published in 1611 by Thomas Coryat of Odcombe, an English traveller and mild eccentric. The book is an account of a long journey undertaken, much of it on foot, in 1608 through France, Italy, Germany, and other European countries. Among other things, it is credited with beginning the craze of the Grand Tour, and introducing the use of the fork to England.

Coryat (sometimes also spelled "Coryate" or "Coriat") conceived of the 1,975-mile (3,175 km) voyage to Venice and back in order to write the subsequent travelogue dedicated to Henry, Prince of Wales, at whose court he was regarded as somewhat of a buffoon and jester, rather than the wit and intellectual he considered himself. The manuscript was jokingly mocked by a panel of contemporary wits and poets and, at the behest of the teenage prince, a series of mock panegyric verses was commissioned and appended to it for publication. The authors of these verses, which included John Donne, Ben Jonson, Inigo Jones, and Sir Thomas Roe, among others, took especial liberties with the personal anecdotes, finding Coryat's self-importance a ripe source of humor.

Several years later, Coryat set himself the more ambitious task of documenting his walk to India, and after leaving in 1613, arrived in the northern city of Ajmer, ten months and 3,300 miles (5310km) later. He died shortly afterwards, however, before he could return home and start work on the account of his journey. Some of his unordered travel notes have survived and found their way back to England; they were published in the 1625 edition of Samuel Purchas's Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells, by Englishmen and others.

Despite the ridicule (to an extent, some of it invited) he endured in his own lifetime, the model he set in Coryat's Crudities (for a self-improving journey to view the arts and culture of Europe) had a real and profound influence on subsequent British history, encouraging an openness to Continental ideas over the next two centuries to a frequently isolated Britain.

British travel writer and humourist Tim Moore retraced the steps of Coryat's tour of Europe, as recounted in his book Continental Drifter.

See also

References

  • Craik, Katharine A. (2004). "Reading Coryats Crudities (1611)." Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 44(1): 77-96.
  • Penrose, Boies. (1942). Urbane travelers: 1591-1635. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Pritchard, R.E. (2004). Odd Tom Coryate: The English Marco Polo. Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton.
  • Strachen, Michael. (1962). The life and adventures of Thomas Coryate. London: Oxford University Press.

External links

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