Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah
The British explorer Sir Richard F. Burton (1821-90) was a colourful and often controversial character. A talented linguist and keen ethnologist, he worked in India during the 1840s as an interpreter and intelligence officer for General Sir Charles Napier, and published several books about his experiences in 1851-2. He first gained celebrity, however, for his adventurous 1853 trip to Mecca, under the disguise of a pilgrim, which is described in this lively three-volume publication (1855-6). Few Europeans had ever visited the Muslim holy places; one of them was John Lewis Burckhardt, whose 1829 account is also reissued in this series. Volume 3 of Burton's book vividly describes the pilgrims' journey from Medina to Mecca, with catering including coffee, rice and 'occasionally. tough mutton and indigestible goat', crowded camp-sites and all-night prayers and singing. Finally he arrives at the Kaabah and witnesses the culminating ceremonies of the hajj.