Personal Narrative of a Year’s Journey through Central and Eastern Arabia 1862 – 1863


William Gifford Palgrave



A journey undertaken through Central and Eastern Arabia, with the purpose of observing rather than publishing, put me in possession of certain details upon those parts of the great Peninsula, which may be worth recording. It is true that the circumstances of my visit, and the restraints inseparable from native disguise, abridged antiquarian research, impeded botanical or geological enquiry, and deprived me of the means of exact and scientific investigation…Why this is so, a few pages of the narrative will make clear. So writes William Gifford Palgrave (1826-88) in the Preface to this abridged edition of his most celebrated work, first published in two volumes in 1865. As a Jesuit missionary, Palgrave travelled widely in Syria and Arabia, often assuming the disguise of a Syrian Doctor in order to visit places no European could penetrate. A brilliant linguist his native disguise enabled him to journey freely from Ma’an (Amman) in the west, overland through the great deserts, to Muscat on the Gulf of Oman.The account of his adventures remains one of the best known and most fascinating of nineteenth-century travel narratives. It provides a unique description of all aspects of Arabian life, combining acute observation with natural writing gift. This facsimile of the 1871 edition, complete with maps and drawings, will be welcomed by both scholars and the general reader.

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