URTON by Byron Farwell
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Richard Burton, best known today for his monumental translation of The Arabian Nights, has come in for a great deal of attention of late. This is probably due to interest stimulated by the recent republication of his translations of Near Eastern erotica-- The Kama Sutra and The Scented Garden. Bercovici's biography That Blackguard, Burton (1962, p. 92) was a romanticized and shallow account. Edwardes' Death Rides A Camel (1963, p. 393) sensationalized the already sensational soldier/explorer/anthropologist/translator/author's career and overemphasized Burton's absorption with the pornographic details in books his Victorian contemporaries avidly purchased and condemned him for. Mr. Farewell's book puts Burton into perspective. His chronological account follows Burton from birth in 1821 to the grotesquely decorated grave (a marble tent with copper camel bells) in 1891. The Burton that emerges here is a man of fantastic energy and ability whose career was a victim of the rigid mores of his time. Successes were lost due to a chronic inability to organize and his outspoken contempt for the society that found it easy to reject and ignore him. His genuine contributions-- the trip to Mecoa, the discovery of Lake Tanganyika, his fairminded report on Salt Lake City and his explorations of Brazil-- are identified and analyzed. His translations of Oriental Literature, which had been lost to Western Civilization, provided the ammunition his critics needed, for they were blatantly sexual. Mr. Farwell points out that Burton was not without blame in this area for he revelled in exotic curiosa. His unlikely marriage to the doubly romantic Isabel is stranger than fiction and chronicled here with less speculation and more sound fact than in previous titles. The author visited all of the remote and diverse territory Burton covered and completes his book with an extensive bibliography and index.

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston