Friday, June 14, 2013

Romance of the East

A while back we blogged about a Unicorn sighting recounted in John Ogilby's America. We recently acquired another book from the series, Ogilby's Asia, the First Part: Being an Accurate Description of Persia, and the Several Provinces thereof: the Vast Empire of the Great Mogol, and other Parts of India : and their Several Kingdoms and Regions: with the Denominations and Descriptions of the Cities, Towns, and Places of Remark therein Contain'd: the Various Customs, Habits, Religion, and Languages of the Inhabitants: their Political Governments, and Way of Commerce: Also the Plants and Animals Peculiar to Each Country (London: John Ogilby, 1673). Despite it's long-winded title, it is a fairly concise description of Persia and India with a focus on the customs and mores of the peoples.

While America highlighted the exotic and fantastic, here Ogilby is more concerned with exhibiting the region's allure. The scene of a party of travelers coming over a ridge as they approach Soltanie captures England's romantic view of the East. The frontispiece, pictured above, shows a handsome man of wealth and power riding an elephant and surveying his realm. A mélange of adventure, intrigue and beauty invites the reader to tour the East through the book.

To see this early example of English Orientialism, ask for Rare DS257.O47 1673.

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