“A REMARKABLE WORK” (T.E. LAWRENCE): FIRST EDITION OF A PILGRIMAGE TO EL-MEDINAH AND MECCAH, IN SCARCE ORIGINAL BLUE CLOTH
Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.
Burton, Richard Francis.
Item Number: 67040
London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855-56.
First edition of Burton’s scarce and important illustrated narrative of his journey to Mecca. Octavo, 3 volumes, original blue cloth with black ornamental border, with five full-page color chromolithographs, eight tinted plates, one black-and-white plate, three plans (two folding), and a folding map. In fine condition. From the library of British professor of music Edward Joseph Dent with his bookplate to the pastedown of each volume. Dent was a Professor of Music and Cambridge University and was awarded honorary degrees from Oxford and Harvard Universities. After World War I, he sought to bring together the artistic communities of England and the United States. After his death the Royal Musical Association instituted the Dent Medal for work in musicology. An exceptional example.
Impelled by wanderlust and the spirit of adventure and aided by an extraordinary facility in Eastern languages, Sir Richard Burton was one of the great explorers of history. He was the first European to enter the capital of Somaliland and the first to discover the Great Lakes of Central Africa. He was also an Orientalist of the first rank. But it is for his pilgrimage in 1853 to Mecca and Medina and the most sacrosanct shrines of Islam that Burton is best known — and for his celebrated book that recorded his experiences during the journey. Successfully posing as a wandering dervish, he gained admittance to the holy Kaabah and to the Tomb of the Prophet at Medina and participated in all the rituals of the Hadj (pilgrimage). He is still one of the very few non-Muslims to visit and return from Mecca. Above all, Burton was a sharp observer — of character, customs, and physical surroundings. These pages contain a treasury of material on Arab life, beliefs, manners and morals; detailed descriptions of religious ceremonies, mosques, temples, etc.; and a variety of ethnographic, economic, and geographical information. Whether telling of the crowded caravan to Mecca, engaging in minute analysis of Bedouin character, waxing lyrical about a desert landscape, or reporting conversations with townsfolk or fellow pilgrims, Burton gives us a vivid picture of the region and its people.