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PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF A PILGRIMAGE TO EL MEDINAH AND MECCAH
London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1857. 2 volumes. The second edition overall, the first edition in two volumes and the first with an additional appendix on the tribes of El Hejaz. With the folding map and plans, and the tinted and colour lithographs. This edition retains all the colour lithographs of the first edition and was the last edition to do so. 8vo, in the publisher's original scarce variant binding of maroon pebbled cloth, with the elaborate all-over designs on the spines and covers in gilt rather then in black, t.e.g. Now protected in a custom slipcase covered in maroon cloth. xiv, 418; 422 pp. A very bright and handsome set, especially clean and attractive for a book rarely found in the original cloth or in such well preserved condition, fine with just a little light wear to the spine tips and extremities, hinges are all firm and fully intact, the text is especially clean and fresh with the colour plates very bright and vivid. AN UNUSUALLY PLEASING COPY OF ONE OF BURTON'S GREATEST BOOKS AND A CORNERSTONE BOOK IN THE OUEVRE. RARE IN THIS CONDITION AND THIS BINDING STATE. According to Penzer, and to countless readers since, this is "one of the greatest works of travel ever published." Burton was one of the first westerners to enter the Arab holy cities; to accomplish this he had to assume the character and costume of a Persian Mirza, a wandering Dervish, and a "Pathan." Mrs. Burton said of his feat that " It meant ...living for nine months in the hottest and most unhealthy climate, upon repulsive food; it meant complete and absolute isolation from everything that makes life tolerable, from all civilisation, from all his natural habits; the brain at high tension, but the mind never wavering from the role he had adopted; but he liked it, he was happy in it, he felt at home in it, and in this book he tells you how he did it, and what he saw." Richard Burton was one of the foremost linguists of his time, an explorer, poet, translator, ethnologist, and archaeologist, among other things. He spent much of his childhood in Italy and France and was educated eclectically. In 1840, he began studies at Trinity College, Oxford and distinguished himself through his eccentric behavior. Two years later, he joined the 18th Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry at Baroda, in order to study "Oriental" life and languages. He had already studied some Arabic in London and learned Gujarati, Marathi, Hindustani, Persian and Arabic while in India. He eventually took on a position that allowed him to mix more freely with the indigenous peoples, especially the lower classes, and began to dress like them. Burton's seven years in India allowed him to become familiar with the languages, customs and geography of the East. This preparation paved the way for his famous trip to Mecca. At this time, there were areas of the Middle East that were still unknown to Westerners and thus, represented grey areas on the world map. Rumor and second hand information about the inner workings and holy sites of one of the largest religions in the world was all that was available to European scholars. Burton's decision to go to Mecca was approved by the Royal Geographical Society in order to fill this void. He passed himself off as an Indian Pathan and was required to know the rituals of a pilgrimage as well as the exigencies of manners and etiquette. Discovery of his deception would all but certainly have met with execution, this alone should indicate the importance both Burton and the R.G.S. placed on this mission. His publication of the journey--The Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah--allowed European readers to experience new cultures, traditions and history. Burton's writing was accessible to the general reader and provided an intimate and well-documented portrayal of the Middle East.
      [Bookseller: Buddenbrooks, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2018-02-19           Check availability:      Biblio    

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