Passionate Pilgrims: English Travelers to the World of the Desert Arabs

James C. Simmons, Author William Morrow & Company $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-06559-1
As related by Simmons (The Novelist as Historian, etc.), the English passion for the Bedouin, the desert Arab, is well exemplified in these spirited stories of eccentric, obsessed, undaunted travelers extending from Hester Stanhope, ""Queen of the Arabs,'' in 1810 to T. E. Lawrence in 1918. Among those who regarded the predatory, plundering Bedouin as knight-errants who practiced ``the wildest form of chivalry'' were Richard Burton, who disguised himself as a dervish doctor to make the pilgrimage to Mecca; Jane Digby, female counterpart of the Byronic hero, a ``proud, passionate, moody, often anguished sinner''; country gentleman, poet, sportsman, insatiable womanizer Wilfrid Blunt and his wife Anne,``a consummate horsewoman, linguist and Byron's granddaughter''; Charles Doughty, a ``cross between a medieval itinerant scholar and a 1960s-style hippie wanderer.'' Simmons describes the Arabian horse, the building of the Suez Canal, Napoleon's temporary conquest of Egypt in 1798 and the Lebanese civil wars of 18401860, which precipitated today's ongoing agony. Photos not seen by PW. (May 26)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next