» » The Collector of Worlds: A Novel of Sir Richard Francis Burton

Download The Collector of Worlds: A Novel of Sir Richard Francis Burton epub

by Iliya Troyanov

A stunning fictionalized account of the infamous life of british colonial officer and translator sir richard francis burton

A nineteenth-century British colonial officer with a rare ability to assim-ilate into indigenous cultures, Sir Richard Francis Burton was an obses-sive traveler whose journeys took him from England to British India, Arabia, and on a quest for the source of the Nile River in Africa. He learned more than twenty languages, translated The Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra, and took part in the pilgrimage to Mecca, in addition to writing several travel books.

This elegant novel tells the story of Burton's adventures in British West India, his experience on the hajj to Mecca, and his exploration of East Africa. In each section, perspective shifts between Burton and the voices of those men he encounters along the way: his Indian servant recounts his travails with Burton to a scribe; the qadi, the governor, and the shari in Mecca investigate Burton's hajj; and Sidi Mubarak Bombay, Burton's African guide, shares his story with friends in Zanzibar. This remarkable con-centric narrative examines the underbelly of colonialism while offering a breathtaking tour of the nineteenth century's most stunning landscapes.

The Collector of Worlds won the fiction prize of Germany's Leipzig Book Fair in 2006 and the Berlin Literary Award, in addition to being a runaway bestseller in Germany.

Download The Collector of Worlds: A Novel of Sir Richard Francis Burton epub
ISBN: 0061351946
ISBN13: 978-0061351945
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: Iliya Troyanov
Language: English
Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (January 19, 2010)
Pages: 464 pages
ePUB size: 1807 kb
FB2 size: 1678 kb
Rating: 4.3
Votes: 910
Other Formats: rtf docx doc lrf

In a note prior to beginning his novel, Iliya Troyanov makes the following disclaimer about THE COLLECTOR OF WORLDS: "Despite occasional direct quotations, its characters and plot are predominately the product of the author's imagination and make no claim to be measured against biographical fact." Rather then focus on Richard Burton, for some reason Troyanov let's us see him through the eyes of minor characters.

Troyanov divides the novel into three parts: Burton's exploits in India as a young army captain; his infiltration of Medina and Mecca; and his efforts to find the source of the Nile.

For the first segment, Troynanov relies on the point of view of Naukaram, Burton's servant. Most of this is about Naukaram's efforts to get a letter of recommendation written by a lahiya (a sort of scribe) by telling him of his time with Burton after he had been dismissed for getting into a fight with a chef. As a result we don't learn much about Burton's exploits as a spy. However, we do see him begin to wear Arab clothes and begin to learn several languages.

The second part, Burton's penetration of the Moslem holy cities, mostly deals with various Islamic officials investigating how Burton was able to overcome their defenses. We hear from The Sharif of Mecca among others. They interrogate the innocent pilgrims who accompanied Burton on his Hajj. Most have nothing but good things to say about Burton. Burton assumes the disguise of a Persian doctor and dervisher who likes to drink. This doesn't surprise the pilgrims much. Meanwhile we're introduced to some curious Islamic activities, such as circumambulating anti-clockwise the Kaaba, the supposed Rock of Abraham, seven times along with hundreds of other pilgrims who try to touch it.

The third segment deals with Burton's attempt to find the source of the Nile. Burton sets out, with fellow explorer John Speke, on a caravan led by African guide and former slave, Sidi Mubarek Bombay, to find the two mysterious lakes, one of which Speke names Lake Victoria. Burton is sick with malaria most to the time. As a result, Speke gets the jump on him with the help of Bombay. Bombay likes to tell stories. Unfortunately his wife has heard most of them; their humorous interaction is the highlight of this part of the book.

Troyanov skips over the debate with Speke about the true source of the Nile. He doesn't even cover Speke's suicide (or hunting accident) on the eve of a debate with Burton. Instead we see Burton on his death bed and the priest who administers extreme unction is worried that Burton was not a Christian. Luckily the bishop has a somewhat more magnanimous interpretation of the term.

There is a glossary at the back of the book, but it seemed that every time I looked for a word, it was missing. Personally I think a writer should think twice before he/she choses a historical character as the inspiration for a novel. It almost never works, especially when the author approaches the task from such an oblique angle. The reader would be better off reading Burton's own accounts or THE DEVIL DRIVES by Fawn
An amazing man who led an amazing life, and this book brings it all to life for the reader. Years ago the BBC produced a wonderful series on the search for the source of the Nile, and so that part of Burton's story can be SEEN, but such a brilliant life that was full of such high adventure could never be shown without a VERY VERY long series made at terrible expense. This book, while covering only certain exciting phases of his career, comes as close as anything can to making it all real for you, short of giving you malaria.
This is a great bio of a truly giant of a man. Those who have read biographies of or works by Sir Richard Francis Burton will enjoy this. Others, perhaps not as much. A blistering insight into the British Empire's India. Fine reading.
This was an excellent selection! Burton was truly a universal man, and the book read like the wind! Great book! Burton is known for his exotic travel adventures all over the world in the 19th century, and was a linguist who spoke 29 languages! He also wrote a great quantity of books, which have been read by interested people everywhere.
One may admire RB's accomplishments for some time,
until one realizes he was a man of his times: a very uninformed
Jew-hater, too bigoted and lazy to add Hebrew to his impressive
language skills, and too lazy to talk to the many Rabbis
he went out of his way to avoid, lest his received, strange, illogical,
hateful preconceptions be challenged. Its educational to be reminded
that those many regard as learned, are anything but... in unexpected ways...
The writer and the subject Richard Burton have a critical thing in common,place. Whilst Burton was one of the first in the "place' Troyanov has been there and brings the colour and feeling of the exotic to his book.
Personally I prefer books written in the first person and this one is not.
Overall I enjoyed the book and will reread it again in the near future.