Richard Burton: Foreignizing Literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890) fashioned himself as the archetypical cosmopolite: linguistic genius, intrepid explorer, polymath translator. The pilgrim to Mecca, traveler to Salt Lake City, and explorer of the Mountains of the Moon in Central Africa was a countercultural hero, an outspoken critic of Victorian prudery and the civilizing pretensions of the British empire. Translation, he believed, was key to the cosmopolitan and the imperial enterprise; and his infamously foreignizing The 1001 Nights would appeal to authors from Joyce to Pamuk and Rushdie. This chapter charts the trajectory of a literary career that remains a touchstone for theorists of cosmopolitanism, world literature, and translation. It asks if the work can be disentangled from the life, Burton's cosmopolitanism from his prejudice.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to World Literature
EditorsKen Seingeurie
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781118635193
ISBN (Print)9781118993187
StatePublished - Jan 10 2020


  • British Empire
  • India
  • Indian Ocean
  • homosexuality
  • Globalization
  • Empire
  • Empire model
  • Prejudice
  • Race
  • Racism
  • Translation


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