Portuguese American Journal

Book: ‘The Travels of Mendes Pinto’ – Editor’s Note

This text, ostensibly the autobiography of Portuguese explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto, came second only to Marco Polo’s work in exciting Europe’s imagination of the Orient. Chronicling adventures from Ethiopia to Japan, Travels covers twenty years of Mendes Pinto’s odyssey as a soldier, a merchant, a diplomat, a slave, a pirate, and a missionary, and continues to overwhelm questions about its source with the sheer enjoyment of its narrative.
“[T]here is plenty here for the modern reader. . . . The vivid descriptions of swashbuckling military campaigns and exotic locations make this a great adventure story. . . . Mendes Pinto may have been a sensitive eyewitness, or a great liar, or a brilliant satirist, but he was certainly more than a simple storyteller.”—Stuart Schwartz, The New York Times.

About the Author

Fernão Mendes Pinto (c.1509 – 8 July 1583) was a Portuguese explorer and writer. His voyages are recorded in The Travels of Mendes Pinto (Portuguese: Peregrinação) (1614), his autobiographical memoir. The historical accuracy of the work is debatable Fernao_Mendes_Pintodue to the many events which seem far fetched or at least exaggerated. Some aspects of the work can be verified, particularly through Pinto’s service to the Portuguese Crown and by his association with Jesuit missionaries. Fernão Mendes Pinto was born in about 1509, in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal to a poor rural family (or perhaps to a family of minor nobility who had fallen on hard times). Pinto made his way to Setubal, where he entered the service of Francisco de Faria, a knight of Santiago. He remained there for four years and then joined the service of Jorge de Lencastre, a master of the Order of Santiago (also an illegitimate son of King John II of Portugal). Pinto held that position for a number of years. Although comfortable, it held no promise of advancement. Therefore, at twenty-eight, Pinto left to join the Portuguese India Armadas. Pinto’s travels can be divided into three phases: firstly, from Portugal to India; secondly, through the region of the Red Sea, from the coast of Africa to the Persian Gulf; and thirdly, from east India to Sumatra, Siam, China, and Japan. Finally, Pinto returned to Europe. On 22 September 1558, Pinto returned to Portugal. Pinto began his memoirs in 1569. The book was published posthumously by friar Belchior Faria in 1614.

About the Translator

Rebecca D. Catz was a research associate in Renaissance and Medieval Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She was an authority on sixteenth-century Portuguese literature, and the author of numerous books and articles on the writings of Portuguese navigator and adventurer Fernão Mendes Pinto.

Book Details

  • Title: The Travels of Mendes Pinto
  • Author: Fernão Mendes Pinto
  • Editor and Translator: Rebecca D. Catz
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Date of Publication: March 9, 1990
  • Digital Edition: May 24, 2013
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 752 pp.
  • File Size: 15237 KB

Source: University of Chicago Press  with PAJ