THE COLLECTOR OF WORLDS Iliya Troyanov
The Victorian era’s reputation for conservatism and Puritanism may be well-deserved, but the other side of the coin is that it was an era of much scientific and geographical enquiry, one that spawned a league of extraordinary gentlemen passionate about their pursuits.
Among these was Sir Richard Francis Burton, who undertook a pilgrimage to Mecca in disguise, ‘discovered’ the source of the Nile along with John Speke, fought in the Crimean War, traveled across the United States, studied the tribes of the Cameroon, undertook a gold-mining expedition in Egypt and explored Brazil and Damascus. No doubt having much free time on his hands, he also wrote books on travel and ethnography as well as translated the Kama Sutra and the Arabian Nights into English.
It is this formidable figure that Iliya Troyanov takes as the subject of his novel Der Weltensammler, now translated into English by William Hobson as The Collector of Worlds.
Troyanov makes it clear from the start that his character of
What’s unusual and appealing about the novel is the manner in which Troyanov builds his recreation. He intersperses a straightforward third person narration with accounts of
There is another aspect to the book, though, and it’s one that’s not so easily overlooked. Quite simply,
In his brief introduction, Troyanov states that his is “a personal approach to a mystery rather than an attempt at definitive revelation”. Perhaps it’s just that