Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sir Richard Francis Burton & Travel Literature (To the Gold Coast for Gold)

 “The glory of an explorer, I need hardly say, results not so much from the extent, or the marvels of his explorations, as from the consequences to which they lead.” - Sir Richard Francis Burton
And I am most happy when those consequences are a good piece of travel writing!

One of my favorite genres is “travel literature.”  Readers in the UK are lucky, because they have more of these books than anywhere else.  And it is not a new genre, so we are able to reach back into the pre-copyright books and read classics of travel literature.

Sir Richard Francis Burton is one of the more famous travel writers.  He was traveling during the 1800’s.  A number of the books are on Kindle, at varying prices.  I have selected “To the Gold Coast for Gold A Personal Narrative in Two Volumes. Volume I” which is free.  (UK version) (Deutsch edition)

Here is an example and it is not so different from travel writing today . . .
“Next morning an absurd old person, in a broad red baldrick, came on board and counted noses, to ascertain that we had not brought the dreaded small-pox from the Ionian Islands. After being graciously and liberally allowed to land, we were visited by the local chapmen, whose goods appeared rather mixed–polished cowhorns and mildewed figs, dolls in costume and corrosive oranges; by the normal musical barber, who imitates at a humble distance bird and beast; and by the vendor of binoculars, who asks forty francs and who takes ten.”
I don’t know about Volume II, but I will be happy to take a voyage with Burton through Volume 1.

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