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    Burton and Speke's Second Expedition

    Richard F. Burton. The Lake Regions of Central Africa: A Picture of Exploration. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860.

    First edition. Two octavo volumes. xvi, [2, list of illustrations], 412; vi, [2, list of illustrations], 468 pages. Twelve chromoxylographic plates, twenty-two woodcut illustrations in the text, and large tinted folding map at the end of Volume II.

    Three-quarter brown morocco over marbled boards, double gilt rules on covers, spine elaborately tooled and lettered in gilt in six compartments with five raised bands. Top edges gilt. Stamp-signed by Root & Son on the verso of the front free endpapers. Marbled endpapers. A bit of light bumping and shelf wear, very slight fading to spines, a bit of light foxing to the edges and preliminary and terminal leaves, a few instances of thumb-soiling at the edges, else a lovely example in very good condition.

    Considered by most to be one of Burton's finest titles. In recent critical and popular works, the explorer Richard Burton has primarily been described either as an advocate (whether consciously or unconsciously) of British imperialism or, conversely, as a sensitive observer of African culture worthy of contemporary canonization. The actual truth about this remarkably complex Victorian lies somewhere apart from both these extremes. In Burton's popular narratives of his explorations in Africa, among them First Footsteps in East Africa, The Lake Regions of Central Africa, and Wanderings in West Africa, Burton often reflects the attitudes and beliefs of his reading audience. But in comparison with the African travel narratives of many of his contemporaries, particularly his traveling companion and one-time friend John Hanning Speke, Burton also reveals a sympathy for the cultures he encounters and a willingness to record the details of their existence even when they have little or no bearing on the goals of his expeditions. In this title Burton and Speke joined up again for their second expedition, this time to find the source of the Nile and explore the Mountains of Madness and the Lake region of Central Africa. They made it to Lake Tanganyka, but illness forced them to retreat to Kazeh to recuperate. Burton later sent Speke to investigate reports of a large lake which Speke found and proclaimed to be the source of the Nile. This led to a pitched battle which Burton eventually won. "With the search for the sources of the Nile, Burton entered upon the most dangerous, demanding and tragic period of his life. Even the wild ride to Harar and back seemed more like an escapade fecklessly entered upon compared to the safari into the African interior. But more than geography, miasmic jungles, disease and natives of a type he had never before encountered complicated the trip for Burton and turned sour the aftermath. What happened in Africa was to mark him for the remainder of his life. Not only his physical health but his sanity was imperiled. The cause of his troubles was not, as so many people suggested, Isabel Arundel, but John Hanning Speke and Speke's friends and allies" (Rice, p. 273).

    Penzer, pp. 65-66.

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