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Lot 327
BURTON (Sir RICHARD FRANCIS)
Sold for £3,226 (US$ 5,353) inc. premium
Lot Details
Literature
BURTON (Sir RICHARD FRANCIS)
Autograph letter signed (“R.F. Burton”), to Dr Rost, Chief Librarian of the India Office, discussing work on the lyrics of Camoens and The Book of a Thousand and One Nights, four pages, oblong 8vo, engraved Arabic pilgrim heading (smudged), printed identification slip, spotted, repaired tear at head, Trieste, 8 October 1884

BURTON ON INDECENT PASSAGES IN THE ‘ARABIAN NIGHTS´. He tells Rost: “The Nights are well forward; about half finished. Payne´s excellent work wants one requisite and that is explanation of many passages which must greatly puzzle the English reader; such as the eunuch who enjoys his mistress till the day of her death. I shall be careful that the notes are in most guarded language, a contrast with the extreme ‘breadth´ of the text. And in the latter I shall simply give the English equivalent, however ‘low´ or ‘vulgar´. Such is my ideal of translation.” When Vol.XV of the Arabian Nights appeared in 1888 it bore a dedication to the Curators of the Bodleian Library: “Gentlemen, I take the liberty of placing your names at the Head of this Volume which owes its rarest and raciest passages to your kindly refusing the temporary transfer of the Wortley Montague MS from your pleasant library to the care of Dr Rost, Chief Librarian, India Office. As a sop to ‘bigotry and virtue´, as a concession to the ‘Scribes and Pharisees´, I had undertaken, in case the loan were granted, not to translate tales and passages which might expose you, the Curators, to unfriendly comment. But, possibly anticipating what injury would thereby accrue to the Volume and what sorrow to my subscribers, you were good enough not to sanction the transfer – indeed you refused it to me twice – and for this step my clientele will be (or ought to be) truly thankful to you”.
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