24 September 2002
RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON (1821-1890)
Wit and Wisdom from West Africa. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1865. 8° (198 x 128mm). (Half-title slightly soiled, a few corners creased, without preliminary [?] advertisement.) Late 19th-century red half morocco and comb-marbled boards, lightly rubbed.
FIRST EDITION, containing 'a total of 2268 proverbs, idioms, enigmas, laconisms, and words conveying knowledge concerning the people's habits and superstitions.' Burton did not believe the 'manifestly Semitic modes of thought' required much explanation but took a different view with 'the purely Hamitic, whose richness of metaphor and whose peculiar method of envisaging moral and physical phenomena, to say nothing of an ellipsis often forced and sometimes obscure, renders them like a Sankrit or a Prakrit, as compared with an Arabic or Persian book, unfamiliar to us, and beyond or beside, as it were, our views' (Preface, p. xxix). Penzer p. 75: 'Rare, especially if in good condiiton.'
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