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Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West Hardcover – May 14, 1990
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From Publishers Weekly
The subtitle of this engrossing book, "The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra , and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West," indicates only the half of it. Beginning his career as a spy for the East India Company, Burton (1821-1890) visited the "forbidden" cities of Medina and Mecca disguised as an Arab, made a yet more perilous trip to the secret city of Harar in Somalia, discovered Lake Tanganyika in his search for the Nile's source, and had sundry adventures in West Africa, the New World and the Levant. One of the great Arabists of his time, a master of 29 languages, he translated a mass of Oriental literature, mystical and erotic. Upon his death, his wife, in a spasm of piety-cum-prudery, burned his heavily annotated translation of The Perfumed Garden and much else. Explorer, swordsman, linguist, scholar, writer, lover of women and pursuer of hidden knowledge, Burton was par excellence the Victorian version of Renaissance man. Rice, author of biographies of Thomas Merton and Margaret Mead, delivers a book worthy of Burton's fierce spirit and protean accomplishments. Illustrations.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Richard Burton was one of the giants of the Victorian empire and epitomised all that was great in the 19th century Empire. His strong physique and intellect were matched by an insatiable appetite for cultural and geographic exploration.
He was an accomplished linguist, speaking 29 languages so successfully that he could disguise himself as one of the locals to further penetrate the culture.
Edwin Rice's biography is well researched, clearly written and an excellent portrait of one of Victorian Britain's heroes.
a biography is highly unusual for me anyway.