Fernão Mendes Pinto
A Portuguese traveller, born at Montemor-o-Velho near Coimbra, c. 1509; died at Almada near Lisbon, 8 July, 1583. After serving as page to the Duke of Coimbra, he went to the East Indies in 1537, and, for twenty-one years, travelled, chiefly in the Far East. In the course of his adventurous career at sea, he was, as he tells on the title page of his book, several times shipwrecked, taken prisoner many times and sold as a slave. He was the first to make known the natural riches of Japan, and founded the first settlement near Yokohama, in 1548. In 1558, tired of wandering, he returned to Portugal where he married, settling in the town of Almada. The first account of his travels is to be found in a collection of Jesuit letters published in Venice in 1565, but the best is his own "Peregrinaçäo", the first edition of which appeared in Lisbon in 1614. The work is regarded as a classic in Portugal, where Pinto is considered one of their best prose writers. In other countries, it has been enthusiastically read by some, by others characterized as a highly coloured romance. But it has an element of sincerity which is convincing, and its substantial honesty is now generally admitted. It is probable that, having written it from memory, he put down his impressions, rather than events as they actually occurred. The Spanish edition by Francisco de Herrara appeared in 1620, reprinted in 1627, 1645, 1664. The French translation is by Figuier (Paris, 1628, and 1630). There are three English editions by Cogan (London, 1663, 1692, and 1891), the last abridged and illustrated.
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