"PRAISE BE GIVEN TO GOD, WHO HAS PLACED MAN'S GREATEST PLEASURE IN THE NATURAL PARTS OF WOMAN…": SIR RICHARD BURTON'S TRANSLATION OF THE PERFUMED GARDEN
BURTON, Richard F., translator. The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui. A Manual of Arabian Erotology. Revised and Corrected Translation. Cosmopoli: Kama Shastra Society of London and Benares, 1886. Octavo, original full vellum, uncut. $2500.
Second edition, published the same year as the first, of Burton's translation of "a curious piece of eroticism."
"A curious piece of eroticism, raunchy and at times funny, which had given [Burton] both pleasure and relaxation in translating. The original version of The Perfumed Garden was credited to a 15th-century Tunisian scholar, Shaykh Nefzawi… The book had been found in manuscript form by some French army officers in North Africa and was translated into French, some 35 copies being run off the crude duplicating machine in the post headquarters. The French version was reprinted in France, where Burton soon discovered it; he set about making a translation into English" (Rice, 598-99). While British consul in Trieste, "Burton had been aware that his iron constitution was at last failing and death was not far away. In order to provide for his wife he had revised and annotated a 16th-century Arab manuscript that he had translated several years before… In its earlier form this work-known as The Perfumed Garden-had sold extremely well. Burton knew that with the addition of his ethnological notes on the sexual practices of the Arabs, and with the missing chapter dealing with homosexuality reinstated, The Perfumed Garden would provide sufficient income to keep [his wife] Isabel in comfort for the rest of her life" (Charles Fowkes). When Burton died in 1890, Isabel burned all of his diaries and manuscripts-including his new translation of The Perfumed Garden. First issued in parts in 1886, this second, improved edition appeared the same year, followed soon thereafter by pirated editions. Penzer, 173-75. Spink 88.