Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah (Volume 2) Info

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Impelled by wanderlust and the spirit of adventure and
aided by an extraordinary facility in Eastern languages, Sir Richard
Burton (1821-90) was one of the great traveler-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-Moslems 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.
Along with his
thorough familiarity with the cultures and languages of the Middle East,
Burton exhibited a resourcefulness and presence of mind that were to
serve him well along the way. These qualities saw him through many a
taut situation in a country where violence was easily kindled. And they
permitted him to get to and into places a man with less enterprise would
never have dreamed of going.
This book’s value to historians
of culture and religion, Orientalists, and other scholars is obvious.
Yet it is as a great classic of travel that it has attracted such a wide
audience. Burton’s highly personal style, vigorous opinions, and
his matter-of-fact humor against a backdrop of constant hazard and
possible exposure have delighted tens of thousands of readers for more
than a century. This reprint gives today’s readers an opportunity
to enjoy this unique work.

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