THIS work, laborious as it may appear, has been to me a labour of love, an unfailing source of solace and satisfaction. During my long years of official exile to the luxuriant and deadly deserts of Africa, Eastern and Western, and to the dull and dreary half-clearings of South America, it proved itself a talisman against ennui and despondency. Impossible even now to open the pages without a vision starting into view; without drawing a picture from the pinacothek of the brain; without reviving a host of memories and reminiscences which are not the common property of travellers, however widely they may have travelled. From my dull and commonplace and "respectable" surroundings, the Jinn bore me off at once to the land of my predilection, Arabia, a region so familiar to my mind that even when I cast my first glance at the scene, it seemed a reminescence of some by-gone metempsychic life in the fast distant Past. Again I stood under the diaphanous skies, in air glorious as æther, whose breath causes men's spirits to bubble like sparkling wine. Once more I saw the evening star hanging like a golden lamp from the pure front of the western firmament; and the after-glow transfiguring and transforming as by magic, the gazelle-brown and tawny-clay tints and the homely and rugged features of the scene into a fairy-land lit with a light which never shines on other soils or seas. Then would appear the woollen tents, long, low, and black of the true Badawin, mere dots in the boundless waste, and the camp-fire dotting like a glow-worm the village centre. Presently, sweetened by distance, would be heard the wild weird song of lads and lasses, driving or rather pelting, through the gloaming their sheep and goats; and the measured chant of the spearsmen gravely stalking behind their charge, the camels; mingled with bleating of the flocks and the bellowing of the humpy herds; while the reremouse flitted overhead with his tiny shriek, and the rave of the jackal resounded through deepening glooms, and--most musical of music--the palm trees answered the whispers of the night breeze with the softest tones of falling water.
And then a shift of scene. As the giant grey shadow rises slowly in the East and the vagueness of evening waxes wan in the West and night comes on without a shade of gloaming, and, as it were, with a single stride, and Earth looks old, and pallid, and cold, alt, kalt, and ungestalt, the spectre of her former self, the camp forgathers. The Shaykhs and "white-beards" of the tribe gravely take their places, sitting with outspread skirts like hillocks on the plain, as the Arabs say, around the camp-fire, whilst I reward their hospitality and secure its continuance by reading or reciting a few pages of their favourite tales. The women and children stand motionless as silhouettes outside the ring; and all are breathless with attention; they seem to drink in the words with eyes and mouth as well as with the ears. The most fantastic flights of fancy, the wildest improbabilities, the most impossible of impossibilities, appear to them utterly natural, mere matters of everyday occurence. They enter thoroughly into each phase of feeling touched upon by the author; they take a personal pride in the chivalrous nature and knightly prowess of Taj al-Mulúk; they are touched with tenderness by the self-sacrificing love of Azízah; their mouths water as they hear of heaps of untold gold given away in largesse like clay by the mighty Hárun al-Rashíd--Aaron the Orthodox; they chuckle with delight every time a Kázi or a Fakír (a judge or a reverend) is scurvily entreated by some Pantagruelist of the Wilderness; and despite their normal solemnity and impassibility, all roar with laughter, sometimes rolling upon the ground till the reader's gravity is sorely tried, at the tales of the garrulous Barber, and of Ali with the Kurdish Sharper. To this magnetising mood the sole exception is when a Badawi of superior accomplishments, who sometimes say his
- 여기서의 역자(譯者)는 리차드 버크를 뜻한다.
- 진은 아랍족 종교의 '영귀'적 존재를 말한다.진은 여러 가지 형태로 둔갑하여 인간 앞에 나타난다. 또 사막에는 어떤 곳에나 있는 것으로 믿어지고 적절한 의례에 의하여 인간은 그 해를 방지하지 않으면 안 된다. 아랍족 안의 시인은 진에 이끌려 영감을 얻게 되고 복술가(卜術家) '카힌'도 이 진의 힘으로 점복(占卜)의 힘을 얻게 된다고 한다.
- 원문에서 이탤릭체로 표시된 alt, kalt, and ungestalt는 독일어로서 각각 "늙은, 추운, 괴이한 것"이라는 뜻이다.
- 셰흐(아랍어: شيخ) 또는 셰이크(Sheikh)는 부족의 원로, 수장, 숭배하는 현인, 이슬람 지식인을 의미하는 아랍어이다.
- 제2권 참조.
- 제2권 참조.