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The Collector of Worlds (2006)

by Ilija Trojanow

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5733133,662 (3.59)15
A colourful swashbuckling story based on the life of Sir Richard Burton, the flamboyant explorer of the nineteenth century.
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» See also 15 mentions

English (24)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (32)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Reading this book was hard work. Firstly the German writing style is difficult. Secondly there was no drama.
The story gave only a ghostly sketch of Sir Richard Burton, who somehow did not come to life.
No doubt that the man was a fascinating character, a linguist and a traveller who was the first westerner to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. A man who translated the Kamasutra and spoke so many languages, and lived so many different lives.
The book only gives glimpses of his personality through the re-telling of his travels from three different viewpoints: The narrator of the first part is Burton's servant in India, the second part is narrated by officials in the Ottoman empire investigating his trip to the Islamic holy cities and the third part is narrated by the African guide who accompanied Burton and Speke on their trip in East Africa to find the source of the Nile.
The effect of this narration is to give the central character a back-seat, so we only get to see him through the eyes of others. This worked partially well in the first part where the servant was reasonably close to Burton, but in the two other parts it gave only a distant picture of the man and his adventure. The descriptions are long and there are pages upon pages of non-events. The book raised more questions about Richard Burton than it answered and I think I will have to meet him again in another biography. ( )
  moukayedr | Sep 5, 2021 |
Ein spannender Roman über den englischen Abenteurer Richard Burton (1821-1890). Anstatt in den Kolonien die englischen Lebensgewohnheiten fortzuführen, lernt er wie besessen die Sprachen des Landes, vertieft sich in fremde Religionen und reist zum Schrecken der Behörden anonym in den Kolonien herum. Trojanows farbiger Abenteuerroman über diesen Exzentriker zeigt, warum der Westen bis heute nichts von den Geheimnissen der anderen Welt begriffen hat.
  Fredo68 | May 14, 2020 |
This novel is based on the life of Sir Richard Burton, the famous explorer whose translation of the 'Arabian Nights' scandalized Victorian society. Troyanov imagines Burton through the eyes of an Indian servant, an Ottoman governor, and a former slave who acted as Burton's guide.
  gerrit-anne | Oct 11, 2018 |
This book with 3 parts started colorful and amazing. I was spellbound. The second part was a very different style but the language kept me going. However, part 3 lost me. The story was going nowhere. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Feb 28, 2016 |
I wasn't sure if I was going to finish this book, especially after the writing style seemed a little too full of itself, maybe even pretentious. And full of unfamiliar words -- either outdated or foreign to me -- that required a quick search of the dictionary to keep me going. It reminded me of other German historical fiction books I'd tried to read and quit on, but I kept going.

I am glad that I persisted, because it really was an enjoyable read. Not having known anything about Sir Richard Francis Burton, I became intrigued by this English explorer who was curious about the world and the people in it, and set himself apart from his fellow explorers in many ways.

The story is split into three main sections, each focusing on a different place Burton visited: India and Pakistan, the Middle East, and Eastern Africa. Each section switches between Burton and other individuals, either servants who helped him in his travels or outsiders trying to figure him out. We see his attempts to learn more about the places he visits and the people he meets, including his difficulty in sharing his interest and curiosity with his fellow Englishmen.

The only downside to the book is that it can take some work to get through, so don't expect a bit of light reading. Some sections get a bit weighty in philosophy or theology, either due to the content or the flowery writing. And it's best to have a dictionary (or the Internet) handy, since the included glossary -- which I found a bit too late -- didn't have definitions for everything, and sometimes the meaning isn't clear from the context.

That said, I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that features traveling or a great adventure as the main theme. Although it wavers a bit towards the end, the story is a pretty intriguing one that kept my interest throughout. ( )
  digitalmaven | Sep 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
"Troyanov succeeds at a different level, recreating that hunger for knowledge, hardship and space that was Burton’s distinctive cast of mind, depicting a man at once hard to like and impossible not to admire."
 
"Now Iliya Troyanov has given us the full fictional version in The Collector of Worlds, a long but consistently satisfying essay in biographical fiction, which is rapidly coming to seem a new genre."
added by bookfitz | editThe Guardian, Giles Foden (Jun 28, 2008)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ilija Trojanowprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arnold, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Álvarez Grifoll, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blanco, Lisa PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Estelrich i Arce, Maria del PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Falvay DóraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gandini, UmbertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hobson, WillTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muayyad’pur, MaryamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rijnaarts, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tellaroli, SergioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tomanová, RenátaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Venard, DominiqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Do what thy manhood bids thee to,
From none but self expect applause:
He noblest lives and noblest dies
Who makes and keeps his self-made laws.

     - Richard Francis Burton, Kasidah VIII, 9
Dedication
For Nuruddin & Ranjit,
who truly cared
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He died early in the morning before you could tell a black thread from a white.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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A colourful swashbuckling story based on the life of Sir Richard Burton, the flamboyant explorer of the nineteenth century.

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