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IL PENTAMERONE; OR THE TALE OF TALES. Being a Translation by the Late Sir Richard Burton, K.C.M.G., of Il Pentamerone; Overo lo Cunto de li Cunte, Trattenemiento de li Peccerille, of Giovanni Battista Basile, Count of Torone (Gian Alessio Abbattutis).

Burton Sir Richard, translator] Gian Alessio Abbattutis

Published by London Henry and Co. 1893, 1893
From Buddenbrooks, Inc. (Newburyport, MA, U.S.A.)

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2 volumes. First Edition. Number 25 of the printing limited to 165 copies on large paper. 4to, publisher’s original black cloth with gilt lettering on upper cover and spine. xvi, 282 pp; vi, 283-562 pp. A bright and pleasing copy with only light age evidence to the bindings, one inner hinge with light cracking to the pastedown and endleaf. SCARCE FIRST PRINTING IN THE LARGE PAPER, LIMITED EDITION FORMAT. Published by Lady Burton after Richard Burton's death, this book comprises a translated collection of Neopolitan tales, a sort of Italian "Arabian Nights." It was issued in an edition of 1500 copies available to subscribers only (see Casada 88), with an additional 165 copies on large paper of which this is the latter. This was one of a group of manuscripts that Lady Burton deemed sufficiently innocuous to escape the notorious burning that she undertook of her husband’s writings after his death. In his youth, Burton had become fluent in the Neopolitan dialect during a long stay in Naples. In his later years, he drew upon this to translate Giovanni Battista Basile’s IL PENTAMERONE. Originally written in 1637, these earthy folk tales are considered on the same level as Boccaccio’s writings. In fact, Burton had originally intended to translate the latter’s DECAMERON in an unexpurgated edition, but changed his mind when he discovered that it had already been done by John Payne. Throughout his career as a translator, Burton relished bringing to print works from around the world that contained lusty content and controversial use of language. He seemed to enjoy the coarse vernacular of this work: "Ah, Kindehen, scatterbrains, piss-a-bed, goat-dancer, petticoat-catcher, hangman’s rope, mongrel mule, spindle-shands, whereat if ever the fleas cough, go where a palsy catch thee; and may thy mammy hear the ill news!.knave, pimp, son of a whore! The lad, who had little beard and less discretion, hearing this flow of abuse, repaid her with the same coin, saying ‘Wilt thou not hold thy tongue, devil’s grandam, bull’s vomit, children-smotherer, turd-clout, farting crone?’" Sir Richard Francis Burton was one of the foremost linguists of his time, and an outstanding explorer, poet, translator, ethnologist, and archaeologist, among other things. Burton lived from 1821 to 1890 and was born in Torquay, England. He spent much of his childhood in Italy and France and was educated eclectically. In 1840, he began studies at Trinity College, Oxford and distinguished himself through his eccentric behavior. Two years later, he joined the 18th Regiment of Bombay Native Infantry at Baroda, in order to study "Oriental" life and languages. He had already studied some Arabic in London and learned Gujarati, Marathi, Hindustani, Persian and Arabic while in India. He eventually took on a position that allowed him to mix more freely with the indigenous peoples, especially the lower classes, and began to dress like them. Burton’s seven years in India allowed him to become familiar with the languages, customs and geography of the East. This preparation paved the way for his famous trip to Mecca. At this time, there were areas of the Middle East that were still unknown to Westerners and thus, represented grey areas on the world map. Burton’s decision to go to Mecca was approved by the Royal Geographical Society in order to fill this void. He passed himself off as an Indian Pathan and was required to know the rituals of a pilgrimage as well as the exigencies of manners and etiquette. Unfortunately because of tribal war, Burton did not go beyond Medina and Mecca at this time. However, his publication of the journey--The Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah--allowed European readers to experience new cultures, traditions and history. Burton’s writing was accessible to the general reader and provided an intimate and well-documented portrayal of the Middle East. His translations reflected his encyclopedic knowledge of Arabic language, sexual practices and life: "it reveals. Bookseller Inventory # 14696

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: London Henry and Co. 1893

Publication Date: 1893

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition

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