Sir Richard Burton was a British explorer, writer, orientalist, cartographer, spy, poet and diplomat. According to the publishing house, Eland:
❝ Richard Burton was one of the greatest Victorian explorers as well as being an innovative translator, a pioneer in the fields of anthropology and sexual psychology and a publisher of erotica. ❞
The Devil That Drives, is an excellent biography, first published in 1967, which covers comprehensively the life of Sir Richard Burton. Fawn Brodie, the talented writer of this biography, creates — in my own opinion — a really vivid and captivating portrait of Burton. By way of her pen, he emerges vividly from the richly textured fabric of his time. His travels to Mecca and Medina dressed as a Muslim pilgrim, his witnessing of the human sacrifices at Dahomey and his unlikely but loving partnership with his pious Catholic bride are all treated with warmth, scholarship and understanding.
Praise for the book
“A first class biography of an exceptional man … Buy it, steal it, read it.”
— J.H. Plumb, New York Times
“The latest, far the best and surely the final biography of Sir Richard Burton, one of the most bizarre characters whom England has ever produced.”
— Graham Greene, The Observer
Burton’s passion was not only for geographical discovery but also for the darker and more deviant side of humankind. His enormous erudition on the sexual customs of the East and Africa, long confined by the prudishness of the Victorian era, are now publicly available. His translations include:
I just love his full name: Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde… Anyhow, he was a poet and a writer who — because of his sexuality — faced various problems and even had to spend a period of time in prison. This is one of my favorite of his observations:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
(( WOLO ))
And this, this is what I want to convey today to you:
You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes or their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.
(The only song I hear is the one sung by you.)
The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems
This poem — originally published anonymously, written after Wilde’s two year’s hard labour in Reading prison — is the tale of a man who has been sentenced to hang for the murder of the woman he loved. The Ballad of Reading Gaol follows the inmate through his final three weeks, as he stares at the sky and silently drinks his beer ration. Heart-wrenching and eye-opening, the ballad also expresses perfectly Wilde’s belief that humanity is made up only of offenders, each of us deserving a greater charity for the severity of our crimes.
The Canterville Ghost
A collection of stories, including two of Wilde’s most famous: “The Canterville Ghost,” in which a young American girl helps to free the tormented spirit that haunts an old English castle and “The Happy Prince,” who was not as happy as he seemed. Often whimsical and sometimes sad, they all shine with poetry and magic.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The novel was a succès de scandale and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The novel was a succès de scandale and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb.”
(The Silence of Love)
As oftentimes the too resplendent sun
Hurries the pallid and reluctant moon
Back to her sombre cave, ere she hath won
A single ballad from the nightingale,
So doth thy Beauty make my lips to fail,
And all my sweetest singing out of tune.
And as at dawn across the level mead
On wings impetuous some wind will come,
And with its too harsh kisses break the reed
Which was its only instrument of song,
So my too stormy passions work me wrong,
And for excess of Love my Love is dumb.
But surely unto Thee mine eyes did show
Why I am silent, and my lute unstrung;
Else it were better we should part, and go,
Thou to some lips of sweeter melody,
And I to nurse the barren memory
Of unkissed kisses, and songs never sung.
Thesiger was a writer, an amazing photographer and an explorer. His most notable works are Arabian Sands (1959) which documented his journey across the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula and, The Marsh Arabs (1964) which documented his time living in the marshes of Iraq.
In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions.
And he that strives to touch the stars, Oft stumbles at a straw.
Edmund Spenser was an English poet who is recognisef as one of the premier craftsmen of early Modern English verse. In fact, he is often considered one of the greatest poets in the English language.
I hate the day, because it lendeth light To see all things, but not my love to see
The Faerie Queene was the first epic in English and one of the most influential poems in the language for later poets from Milton to Tennyson. Dedicating his work to Elizabeth I, Spenser brilliantly united medieval romance and renaissance epic to expound the glory of the Virgin Queen. The poem recounts the quests of knights including Sir Guyon, Knight of Constance, who resists temptation, and Artegall, Knight of Justice, whose story alludes to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Composed as an overt moral and political allegory, The Faerie Queene, with its dramatic episodes of chivalry, pageantry and courtly love, is also a supreme work of atmosphere, colour and sensuous description.
Her angel’s face, As the great eye of heaven shined bright, And made a sunshine in the shady place.