Travels in Koordistan, Mesopotamia, Etc. With Sketches of the Character and Manners of the Koordish and Arab Tribes.
by FRASER, James Baillie (1783-1856).
London:: Richard Bentley, ., 1840. 2 vol. in 1. 8vo. ix, 382; 477 pp. 2 engraved plates. Original publisher's red blind and pictorial gilt-stamped cloth; extremities worn, some kozo repairs. Bookplate of JB [?] Suivez Raison ("Follow reason"); ownership signature of John [Joshua?] Browne, with blazon of an eagle displayed vert. Good. First edition. An account of Fraser's return journey from his diplomatic mission to Persia (the outward journey was recorded in his A Winter's Journey (Tatar,) from Constantinople to Tehran). This is one of the most important Persian travel narratives of the first half of the nineteenth century. "…his travel books remain an important source of information. Curzon praised his "faithful portraiture of every aspect of modern Persian life" and considered him as "incomparably the best authority on the Northern provinces" (Persian Question I, pp. 24, 356)." – Encyclopaedia Iranica./ "Mr. Fraser is a practised writer, and can at all times fill two or three volumes with pleasant matter, were it merely about himself, and his various adventures, or even familiar things . . . The scenes of his travels . . . being comparatively unbroken ground by Europeans, and his acquaintance with eastern manners being extensive, render his easy gossiping performance particularly agreeable and frequently deeply interesting." The reviewer wanted a more current narrative to reflect 'recent' events of 1834-35, thus the expected importance of this work did not meet his expectations. Fraser starts from Tabreez in 1834. His stories of meeting people and learning of their ways are the strength of this book, thus giving much insight to the character of the people and places. See: The Monthly Review, from January to April inclusive, 1840, pp. 476-486. / Fraser, by this time, had a lot of experience traveling through Persia and had also gained a reputation due to his written works on the same subject, some were novelizations. "During 1835-38, Fraser was also employed by the Foreign Office in writing articles and pamphlets designed to awaken the public to the Russian menace. In this he was helped for a time by John McNeill, temporarily back from Tehran, and David Urquart, both as paranoid about Russia as himself (Rawlinson, pp. 53-54). Meanwhile, Fraser continued to write books. Accounts of his travels appeared in 1838 and 1840: A Winter's Journey (Tartar) from Constantinople to Tehran, with Travels through Various Parts of Persia (2 vols., London, 1838) and Travels in Koordistan, Mesopotamia, etc. Including an Account of Parts of Those Countries hitherto Unvisited by Europeans with Sketches of the Character and Manners of the Koordish and Arab Tribes (2 vols., London, 1840). Both books contained much detailed information about places, ancient sites, scenery, and, above all, peoples—Turkmans, G?lan?s, Kurds, and Arabs—almost unknown to the West. These books also contain brief contemporary accounts of the problems caused by the death of ?Abbas M?rza (q.v.) and Fat?-?Al? Shah, and the struggle for the accession." – Encyclopaedia Iranica. / James Baillie Fraser, born in Scotland, wrote about and traveled to Persia and India. All four of his brothers worked for the East India Co., thus leading him to follow after a failed attempt to manage the family sugar and cotton plantations in Guyana. He was prolific in writing about Persia, with accounts dating from as early as 1820 and extending some 10 books over thirty and more years. He also achieved some success as a painter. REFERENCES: Cyrus Ghani, Iran and the West: a critical bibliography, (1987), p.142; Schwab 202; Wilson p. 75; not in Atabey. SEE: Farmanfarmaian, Fatema Soudavar, "James Baillie Fraser in Mashhad, or, the Pilgrimage of a Nineteenth-Century Scotsman to the Shrine of the Imam Ri?a." Iran 34: 101–115, (1996); Denis Wright, "Fraser," Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. X, Fasc. 2, pp. 192-195.
(Inventory #: ME1094)
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