Travels in Arabia and Africa

Sir Richard Burton's Travels in Arabia and Africa: Four Lectures from a Huntington Library Manuscript

Written by:Sir Richard Burton
Edited by:John Hayman
Category:Huntington Collections
Format:120 pages, 7 x 10, illus., paper
Release Date:2005-04-04

Price: $18.95

About this Book

Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890)—explorer, linguist, anthropologist—was one of the most fascinating figures of the Victorian era. In 1866, while serving as British consul in Brazil, he presented four lectures on the highlights of his travels in Arabia and Africa. The first two lectures describe the visits Burton made to Medina and Mecca disguised as an Islamic pilgrim. The rites of pilgrimage, framed by the drama of Burton's disguise and its attendant dangers, are described in extensive and sympathetic detail. The next two lectures are dramatic accounts of Burton's journeys to Harar and Dahomey, and of his mission to persuade King Gelele to give up the practice of human sacrifice. The vivid details he presents reveal not only the characteristics of the cultures he encountered but also the prejudices of the culture he represented. Well received by critics when first published in 1990, this volume of lectures is now available in paperback.


About the Author
John Hayman is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Victoria and editor of John Ruskin: Letters from the Continent, 1858, and of Robert Brown and the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition.


Reviews of Sir Richard Burton's Travels:


“Burton’s works… recommend themselves to a modern audience because they are luxuriously rich in adventure, and it is an experience in adventure that is no longer available today… Reading this volume will very likely instill within the reader a desire for a deeper investigation into Burton’s zestful life… This fine volume… extends a glimpse into a man whose passion for life is nothing short of infectious.  While reading these lectures, I yearned to have traveled with Mr. Burton on just one of these journeys into the unknown, but ultimately resigned myself to be grateful for the pleasure of a vicarious adventure.” – Angus Crane – Bridges


“Sir Richard Burton (1821-90) is arguably one of the most prolific and fascinating personalities of the Victorian Era…he mastered a dozen languages, was brilliant at disguising himself to pass as a native of many countries, translated poetry, and was an excellent swordsman.  Sir Richard Burton’s Travels in Arabia and Africa is a reprint of lectures Burton gave on his expeditions to Mecca, Al Medina, Dahome, and East Africa.  John Hayman provides an excellent introduction. “ – The Explorers Journal


[Richard Burton]’s life, writings, and controversial opinions created a public sensation in Victorian society… The book contains four lectures delivered by Burton in 1866 while he was British Consul in Brazil.   Each lecture gives a dramatic account of a daring expedition: his pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina, disguised as an Arab, and his travels to Harar and Dahomey in East Africa.” – San Marino Tribune


“Lecturing was a favorite Victorian vehicle for self-promotion, and the great explorer Sir Richard Burton was a master publicist… These versions of Burton’s exploits sound a good deal more modest than the sometimes overheated accounts of the same events in his books (for example, penetrating the shrine at Mecca even though his infidel status made him persona non grata there).  The four lectures derive from the notebook in which Burton wrote them out in longhand and were delivered in Brazil when he was English consul there in 1866.” – Washington Post

"Burton's lectures…give the full flavor of both his fierce temperament and his fiercer curiosity."—Los Angeles Times

"Burton's own narratives...are classics of travel. Best known is the account of his journey to Medina and Mecca, closed to non-Muslims.... As Hayman observes, [Burton] reveals his volatile temper as well as his amazing capacity to assimilate information which must have been retained in his head, as no writing was permitted."—History Today


"Burton's experiences in Africa and Arabia are brought vividly to life in these fascinating lectures, which combine travelogue with ethnological study. There is also great drama, and Burton succeeds in conveying something of the sense of danger and excitement that he must have felt—not least in gaining access to places normally forbidden to white men. Yet at the same time, his accounts are modest, restrained and never boastful. This is travel writing of the very highest quality and, 140 years on, it has surely stood the test of time."--Geographical

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The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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