Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah.

London: Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1855-56.

Price: $8,500.00

About the item

First edition. Folding engraved map, 13 plates (5 color and 8 tinted), and 8 plans (2 folding, 5 in text). xiv, [2], 388; iv (i.e. vi), 426; x, 448 pp. 3 vols. 8vo. Brown half-calf gilt by Morrell, morocco lettering pieces, marbled endpapers, a.e.g. Some scattered light foxing. A very attractive set. Penzer pp. 43-50; Casada 53; Spink 7; Abbey Travel 368; Macro, 640; Howgego IV, B95. Provenance: William Foyle (Beeleigh Abbey book labels).

Item #314798

"In 1852 Burton proposed to the Royal Geographical Society that he make the hajj, or pilgrimage, to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Forbidden to non-Muslims, less than half a dozen Europeans were known to have visited them and lived, and of those only the Swiss explorer J. L. Burckhardt had left a detailed account. Burton intended to make the pilgrimage in complete disguise as a Muslim native of the Middle East ... an exploit of linguistic and cultural virtuosity which carried considerable risk for its perpetrator ...Burton first travelled to Egypt, where he ... modified his former persona to become Sheikh Abdullah, a wandering Sufi dervish and practitioner of medicine. So successful was he in the latter role that he soon developed a thriving practice ... After the fasting month of Ramadan he proceeded by camel to Suez, whence a tumultuous voyage on a pilgrim boat took him to the Arabian port of Yanbu' al-Bahr. He then travelled by caravan to Medina, arriving on 25 July 1853. There he remained for some weeks as he explored the city, visiting the Prophet's tomb and venturing to nearby sites such as the battlefield at Uhud. On 31 August he departed Medina with the Damascus caravan and reached Mecca early on 11 September 1853. Later that morning he proceeded to the Great Mosque and stood before the Kaaba.

"During the several days that Burton spent in Mecca, he performed the associated rites of the pilgrimage such as circumambulating the Kaaba, drinking the Zemzem water, and stoning the devil at Mount Arafat. All the while, as at Medina, he secretly made the detailed notes that enabled his resulting book to surpass all preceding Western accounts of the holy cities ... A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah made Burton famous and became a classic of travel literature" (ODNB).