F.J. McLynn Burton: Snow Upon the Desert

ISBN 13: 9780719552809

Burton: Snow Upon the Desert

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9780719552809: Burton: Snow Upon the Desert
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Richard Burton was a phenomenon, even by the standards of his time. Master swordsman, fluent in two dozen languages, poet, scholar, soldier, archaeologist and anthropologist, he was also the pioneer explorer of East Africa; he discovered Lake Tanganyika and took part in the notorious search for the source of the Nile and the 'Mountains of the Moon'. He travelled extensively in West Africa, the Americas, India, Europe and the Middle East. A translator of immense talent, he produced. English versions of Camoens' Lusiads, the Kama Sutra, and, most famously, The Arabian Nights. As a sexologist he anticipated Freud and Havelock Ellis. In this biography, Frank McLynn draws on material from a wealth of untapped sources. He offers a challenging and original psychological portrait of the public and private Burton, the latter tortured, divided and deeply ambivalent. Not neglected either is Burton's formidable and controversial wife Isabel. The result is a disturbing but compelling portrait of a man many claim to have been the greatest of all the 'Eminent Victorians'.

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From Library Journal:

This biography by a critically acclaimed scholarly British writer ( Stanley: The Making of an African Explorer , LJ 11/1/90) offers yet another portrait of the great Victorian explorer and scholar whose multifaceted talents and complex personality continue to fascinate. Unlike the 1990 best-selling biography by Edward Rice ( Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton , LJ 4/15/90), this work takes a psychobiographical approach and gives Fawn Brodie's earlier biography ( The Devil Drives , LJ 6/1/67) its just scholarly due. It also draws upon previously unused sources and adds much to the story of Burton's quest for the source of the Nile and his relationship with co-explorer John Hanning Speke. McLynn focuses on Burton's self-destructiveness, his lack of a stable identity, and the bisexual elements in his nature; he holds that an early disastrous failure with an Indian mistress caused Burton to marry the sexually unthreatening Isabel. McLynn's treatment of Isabel Burton at times takes on the tone of Burton's own capacity for contempt; she is treated more evenly in Brodie's biography, which has stood the test of time superbly. Nonetheless, McLynn's reconstruction of Burton's convoluted inner life is scholarly, well written, and compelling. For biography, history, and travel collections.
- Joan W. Gartland, Detroit P.L.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Award-winning British historian ( Jacobite Army in England ) McLynn surpasses himself with this thoroughly engrossing life of the Victorian explorer. Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) emerges as a man riddled with inconsistencies. He was a linguist fluent in 20 languages, yet his books were written in shamefully bad English, even if they were acknowledged as masterpieces. Despite his abhorrence of authority, he accepted a post with the British consul in India in 1842, opening the door to his anthropological studies. Burton achieved fame 10 years later, when he infiltrated a pilgrimage to Mecca at the risk of his life. That feat typifies the explorer's practices in immersing himself in the cultures of India, Arabia, Africa--and the Mormons in the U.S. McLynn also discusses Burton's fixation on sexual practices, particularly esoteric varieties of homosexuality in "forbidden" societies. And for all his involvement with the world's peoples, he was, according to McLynn, a bigot and a misogynist, despising even his devoted wife, Isabel. In this meticulously detailed biography, Burton is revealed as a Nietzschean poet, author and celebrated translator (e.g., The Arabian Nights ), a man of unequaled accomplishments, spoiled but a genuine genius. Illustrations.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780719548185: Burton: Snow upon the Desert

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ISBN 10:  0719548187 ISBN 13:  9780719548185
Publisher: John Murray Pubs Ltd, 1991

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F.J. McLynn
Published by John Murray Publishers Ltd (1993)
ISBN 10: 071955280X ISBN 13: 9780719552809
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