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The first European to visit Timbuktu

CAILLIÉ, René-Auguste.
Dagverhaal eener reize naar Temboektoe, van de westkust af van Afrika, door de binnenlanden, over Jenné, Kabra, Arawan en vele andere opmerkelijke plaatsen, de groote woestijn door, op Tanger... Uit het Fransch overgebragt door Herman van Lil.
Haarlem, widow A. Loosjes, 1831. 2 volumes. 8vo. With engraved frontispiece and an engraved author's portrait by D. and A. Veelvaard, and a large folding map (41.5 x 28.5 cm) after E.F. Jomard. Contemporary half cloth. XVI, 496; [4], 622 [= 582] pp.
€ 1,950
First Dutch edition of Caillié's travels to Timbuktu. In 1826 the Société de Géographie had offered a reward of 10,000 francs to the first European to visit Timbuktu (and return alive). Caillié, by that time already travelling in Africa, was determined to reach the fabled city. Dressed as a Muslim and well-versed in Arabic, he embarked on his journey in April 1827, reaching Timbuktu on 19 April of the following year. "Caillié was sorely disappointed with what he saw: a dreary, sleepy little town on the edge of the desert ..." (Howgego). Nothing was left of the legendary riches of the city, and the population lived in constant fear of Tuareg attack. Caillié remained in Timbuktu for only two weeks, leaving for Morocco on 4 May. He crossed the Sahara, and after many hardships reached Morocco's Tafilet region on 23 July. By way of Fez, Meknes and Rabat he arrived in Tangier from where he sailed for France.
Caillié was preceded Benjamin Rose and by Alexander Gordon Laing in being the first European to enter Timbuktu. Laing, however, was murdered on the way back and Rose's account met with disbelieve. Accordingly, Caillié was rewarded the 10,000 franc prize after his successful return in October 1828. His narrative contains many interesting details on the secluded regions he traversed and the peoples he encountered, without romanticizing his adventures.
Fine set. NCC (6 copies; 1 incomplete); Saalmink, p. 338; cf. Gay, Bibl. de l'Afrique et l'Arabe248 (French edition); Howgego, 1800-1850, C2; not in Tiele, Bibl.
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Africa  >  Cartography & Exploration | Central & West Africa | North Africa & Egypt
Cartography & exploration  >  Africa | Voyages & Travel
Middle east & islamic world  >  Africa | Cartography & Exploration