In 1865 Richard Burton was transferred to Santos in Brazil , where Isabel for the first time was able to make a home. They spent four years in Brazil, two in Damascus- which ended in trouble because of the intrigues of the Syrian officials who came to dislike Burton- and nineteen years at Trieste. The Foreign Office considered him too independent, irascible, and tactless to be trusted with an important post. Neverthless, it permitted him an extraordinary amount of freedom for travel and writing. Eventually, on his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, he was knighted.
Meanwhile books continued to pour forth from his pen. His wife did much of the drudgery, copying, editing and proofreading. At one point she wrote a lively, gossipy book of her own, The Inner Life of Syria ( 1875), which sold better than any travel book of her husband’s. Burton wrote too hastily,often without order of discrimination. His books are too anecdotal and not sufficiently analytical to place him among the front ranks of the theorists in anthropology.
It was in his final years that Burton produced his greatest work. As early as 1852 he had planned a translation of the Arabian Nights’ tales in collaboration with Dr. John Steinhauser. After Steinhauser’s death in 1866 he continued collecting the tales, finding them “an unfailing source of solace and satisfaction… a charm, a talisman against ennui and despondency.” He did little translation however, until after 1879, when he was stimulated into action by the announcement of a forthcoming edition by John Payne. Burton was determined to translate the tales in their entirety, without any of the expurgation of all the previously published texts.
(see link at end)…Of artistry, of what FitzGerald calls “sinking and reducing,” Burton had no notion. “If anything is in any redaction of the original, in it should go,” he said. “Never mind how shocking it may be to modern and western minds. If I sin, I sin in good company—in the company of the authors of the Authorised Version of the Bible, who did not hesitate to render literatim certain passages which persons aiming simply at artistic effect would certainly have omitted.” Read More:http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4315/4315-h/4315-h.htm
The Burton edition, “A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments,…” though heralded by many journals as a monument of knowledge and audacity, was also attacked as indecent and filthy. The Edinburgh Review, in July 1886, called it, “an appalling collection of degrading customs and statistics of vice,” a work “which no decent gentleman will long permit to stand upon his shelves…Galland for the nursery, Lane for the library,Payne for the study, and Burton for the sewers.”
Undismayed, Burton went on to publish six supplemental volumes replying to his critics with still more compendious notes on the erotic customs of the East: His defence of his notes will be found in the last volume of his Supplemental Nights. We may quote a few sentences to show the drift of it. He says “The England of our day would fain bring up both sexes and keep all ages in profound ignorance of sexual and intersexual relations; and the consequences of that imbecility are particularly cruel and afflicting. How often do we hear women in Society lamenting that they have absolutely no knowledge of their own physiology…. Shall we ever understand that ignorance is not innocence. What an absurdum is a veteran officer who has spent a quarter of a century in the East without knowing that all Moslem women are circumcised, and without a notion of how female circumcision is effected,” and then he goes on to ridicule what the “modern Englishwoman and her Anglo-American sister have become under the working of a mock modesty which too often acts cloak to real devergondage; and how Respectability unmakes what Nature made.” Read More:http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4315/4315-h/4315-h.htm
The Nights was a surprising financial success, which gave Burton a special sardonic satisfaction:
(see link at end)…This translation, undertaken at breakneck speed and circulated by subscription only to avoid the obscenity laws,
an unexpected success, Burton observing ruefully that “I struggled for forty-seven years. I distinguished myself honourably in every way I possibly could. I never had a compliment, nor a ‘thank you,’ nor a single farthing. I translated a doubtful book in my old age, and immediately made sixteen thousand guineas. Now that I know the tastes of England, we need never be without money.”
Selections from Burton’s text are still in print, and though translated into what a contemporary authority on the Nights, Robert Irwin, has described as a “sort of composite mock-Gothic, combining elements from Middle English, the Authorised Version of the Bible and Jacobean drama,” it has had some influential admirers. Jorge Luis Borges, for example, particularly admired it, Burton’s often bizarre English translation being part and parcel of what for Borges was the most fruitful way of reading the text: “I think the reader should enrich what he is reading. He should misunderstand the text; he should change it into something else.” Read More:http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2006/791/cu1.htm
Upon finishing The Nights Burton began to work on a new edition of The Perfumed garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui, an Arabic manual on the art of love. He had only a few pages left to finish, when he died of a heart attack, on October 20,1890….. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)….I have noted that Mohammed, in the fifth year of his reign, after his ill-advised and scandalous marriage with his foster-daughter Zaynab, established the Hijáb or veiling of women. It was probably an exaggeration of local usage: a modified separation of the sexes, which extended and still extends even to the Badawi, must long have been customary in Arabian cities, and its object was to deliver the sexes from temptation, as the Koran says , “purer will this (practice) be for your hearts and their hearts.” The women, who delight in restrictions which tend to their honour, accepted it willingly and still affect it, they do not desire a liberty or rather a licence which they have learned to regard as inconsistent with their time-honoured notions of feminine decorum and delicacy, and they would think very meanly of a husband who permitted them to be exposed, like hetairæ, to the public gaze. As Zubayr Pasha, exiled to Gibraltar for another’s treason, said to my friend, Colonel Buckle, after visiting quarters evidently laid out by a jealous husband, “We Arabs think that when a man has a precious jewel, ’tis wiser to lock it up in a box than to leave it about for anyone to take.” The Eastern adopts the instinctive, the Western prefers the rational method. The former jealously guards his treasure, surrounds it with all precautions, fends off from it all risks and if the treasure go astray, kills it. The latter, after placing it en evidence upon an eminence in ball dress with back and bosom bared to the gaze of society, a bundle of charms exposed to every possible seduction, allows it to take its own way, and if it be misled, he kills or tries to kill the misleader. It is a fiery trial and the few who safely pass through it may claim a higher standpoint in the moral world than those who have never been sorely tried. But the crucial question is whether Christian Europe has done wisely in offering such temptations. Read More:http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/afterword4.html