Sir Richard Francis Burton (18211890) was a gifted linguist, a daring explorer, a prolific author, and one of the most flamboyant celebrities of his day. Forced to leave Oxford for unruly behavior, he joined the British Army in India, where he gained a remarkable knowledge of Arabic, Hindustani, and Persian, eventually acquiring twenty-nine languages and many dialects. He led the famed expedition to discover the source of the Nile and, disguised as a Muslim, made a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, then forbidden to non-Muslims, and penetrated the sacred city of Harare in uncharted East Africa. Burton translated unexpurgated versions of many famous texts including theKama Sutra (1883) and Arabian Nights (1885-88), which is perhaps his most celebrated achievement.
Daniel Beaumont is an associate professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Rochester and the author ofSlave of Desire, a critical study of the Arabian Nights. He is also a teacher and scholar of the blues.
Jack Zipes is a professor of German at the University of Minnesota. The author of several books on fairy tales, includingDon’t Bet on the Prince, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, and Breaking the Magic Spell, he is the editor and translator ofThe Complete Tales of the Brothers Grimm and the editor of Signet Classics’sThe Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde.