Coryat’s Crudities: Selections
  • Publication Date: August 15, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554813230 / 1554813239
  • 250 pages; 5½" x 8½"
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Coryat’s Crudities: Selections

  • Publication Date: August 15, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554813230 / 1554813239
  • 250 pages; 5½" x 8½"

The early seventeenth-century traveler Thomas Coryate’s five-month tour of Western Europe culminated in Coryats Crudities, one of the strangest travelogues published in early modern England. A charismatic raconteur, Coryate blends his detailed “observations” of churches, palaces, and local customs (including the first account of forks in English) with lengthy historical digressions and lively accounts of personal misadventure. Coryate, who had strong connections to the political, legal, and literary circles of early modern England, became a figure well known for his eccentricity and odd style, though he was also respected for his antiquarian scholarship and facility with foreign languages. Now, he is remembered as one of the most unique travel-writing voices ever known in English letters.

This edition abridges Crudities’ more than 900 pages to a manageable size, focusing on episodes most likely to be of interest to students —such as Coryat’s descriptions of Venetian mountebanks, courtesans, and Jews; his crossing of the Alps; and his attendance at a Corpus Christi celebration in Paris. An engaging introduction situates the book in the context of Coryat’s fascinating life, and the text is helpfully annotated throughout. The selection of contextual materials includes illustrations from the first edition, along with a sampling from another eccentric feature of the Crudities: a collection of mock commendatory poems making fun of Coryate and his journey, contributed by dozens of noblemen and literati (including the poets Ben Jonson and John Donne). Coryate, who was in on the joke, carefully curated the comic persona emerging from these verses, making creative use of media culture to gain personal celebrity.

Thomas Coryate: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Coryat’s Crudities: Selections

Appendix A: Paratextual Materials from the 1611 Edition of Coryats Crudities

  1. Laurence Whitaker, “Certain opening and drawing distiches … arising out of the Crudities”
  2. Ben Jonson, “Certain other verses, as charms to unlock the mystery of the Crudities”
  3. Thomas Coryate, “To the High and Mighty Prince Henry … ”
  4. Thomas Coryate, “The Epistle to the Reader”
  5. Ben Jonson, “Character of the famous Odcombian, or rather Polytopian, Thomas the Coryate”
  6. Ben Jonson, “To the Right Noble Tom, Tell-Troth, of his Travails, the Coryate of Odcombe, and his Book now going to travel”
  7. Thomas Coryate, “An Introduction to the ensuing verses”
  8. Selected “Panegyricke Verses” by John Donne and Hugh Holland

Appendix B: Materials from Coryats Crambe (1611)

  1. Ben Jonson, “To the London Reader, on the Odcombian writer, Polytopian Thomas the Traveller”
  2. Hugh Holland, “The same hand again to the Idiot’s Readers”
  3. from Thomas Coryate, “Certain orations pronounced by the author of the Crudities”

Appendix C: Additional Materials from Other Sources

  1. Letter from Thomas Coryate to Sir Michael Hicks
  2. “On Tom Coriat”

Works Cited and Select Bibliography

Philip S. Palmer is Head of Research Services at UCLA’s William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.

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