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Burtons

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Flash
2437.  Mon Dec 01, 2003 7:08 am Reply with quote

From the blurb of "The Devil Drives - a Life of Sir Richard Burton" by Fawn Brodie:

Quote:
Richard Burton's life offers dazzling riches. He was one of the greatest Victorian explorers, an innovative translatorand brilliant linguist, a prolific travel writer, a pioneer in the fields of anthropology and sexual psychology, a mesmeric lover, a spy and a publisher of erotica ... His travels to Mecca and Medina dressed as a Muslim pilgrim, his witnessing of the human sacrifices at Dahomey and his unlikely but loving relationship with his pious Catholic bride are all treated with warmth, scholarship and understanding.


Also, one might add, the possessor of a remarkable set of whiskers.

 
Jenny
2441.  Mon Dec 01, 2003 8:20 am Reply with quote

Didn't his wife destroy a lot of his work after he died because she thought it was 'indecent'?

 
Jenny
2442.  Mon Dec 01, 2003 8:28 am Reply with quote

Guardian Notes and Queries readers disagree over the origin of 'gone for a burton':

Quote:
Another movie one is 'Going/gone for a Burton', on a bender after Richard. Most sayings with names in them have actual people prompting them.

Robert del Valle, Detroit USA
'Gone for a Burton' predates Richard; it was commonl RAF slang for RAF pilots who failed to return in the second world war. Probably gone for one of Burton's ales, or possible a suit from Burton's shops.

Tessa, Wimbledon UK
No. "Gone for a Burton" means to have gone for a Burton Ale. This was wartime R.A.F. slang, and the pilot who had supposedly gone for a beer wasn't actually coming back. Richard Burton would have been a mere boy at the time.

Bill Irving, Clacton UK
"Gone for a Burton" can be traced back to the 15th century as a euphamism for dying. There are a number of explanations offered for the origin, but none have to do with Richard Burton the actor (nor indeed Sir Richard F Burton the adventurer). In reference to its use as an expression for going drinking, the origin is probably cockney rhyming slang: Burton's Suit = toot (Sorry, C Higgins).

Tony James, London Merrie England
Not wishing to decry Mr Higgins but 'Gone for a Burton' actually means 'gone for a beer' as until quite recently a large proportion of beer in the UK was manufactured in Burton-on-Trent (something to do with the purity of the water) and is also the home of IPA (India Pale Ale)

andy, Petaling Jaya Malaysia


http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-27753,00.html

Most sources give the RAF version, pointing out that the sea was known as 'the drink', and thus that somebody who had gone in the drink could be said to have 'gone for a Burton' in the sense of going for a drink. However, here is another one that brings in the 15th century connection and explains it in better detail (and gives a source):

Quote:
Burton: To go for a Burton implies that someone has been killed or completely ruined. World War Two pilots used this expression when colleagues did not return from missions; it seemed less permanent than saying that their fellow pilots had died. It is supposed to refer to Burton Ale, a strong beer brewed at the time, with the implication that their friends had only popped out for a drink.

However the phrase is recorded in the 15th century as a euphemism for "to die". Furthermore, it could be that it is one of several expressions which transferred from the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) when it was merged into the RAF in 1918. If so, there are two possible derivations. The first refers to a 'Spanish Burton' which was an ingenious but complicated pulley arrangement made up of three blocks. Indeed, so complicated was the Spanish Burton, and so rarely used, that hardly anyone could remember how to do it. Thus it became the standard answer to anyone in authority enquiring the whereabouts of a missing member of a working party: 'he's gone for a burton'. The other explanation comes from the term 'a-burton' an unusual method of stowing wooden casks or barrels sideways across the ship's hold. The advantage of this was that they took up less space and were individually more accessible than when stowed in the fore-and-aft line. The disadvantage, however, and the reason why it was rarely employed, was that the entire stowage could easily collapse. Hence the implication of knocking a man over. (Source of RNAS derivations: 'Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions' by Bill Beavis and Richard G. McCloskey (Sheridan House; originally published in London in 1983)).

http://www.briggs13.fsnet.co.uk/book/b.htm

 
Flash
2443.  Mon Dec 01, 2003 9:13 am Reply with quote

Brewer gives the "beer" version. I wonder if enough people use the expression nowadays to make this a question of wide interest, though.

And yes, that's true about Burton's wife.

 
Liebig
3020.  Tue Dec 09, 2003 11:42 am Reply with quote

Burton's nickname was " Dirty Dick " because of the dirty additions he made to THE ARABIAN NIGHTS in translation. Interestingly, there was no standard text of the book in Arabic until Arabian scholar Muhsin Mahdi established an edition in 1984. The Arabic world never regarded the tales as polite literatiure.
s: FTI, Marina Warner, 26.07.03

 
Molly Cule
3966.  Thu Jan 08, 2004 8:04 am Reply with quote

At Oxford Burton applied for a fellowship. He was tested in his knowledge of ancient Greek and Latin. He was fluent in both and so decided to show off his extra knowledge; he conversed iin Roman Latin rather than Anglicesed Latin taught at the time and modern Greek which he had picked up from Greek merchants during a stop in Marseilles. Rather than admiring him the dons penalised him for what they took to be terrible pronunciation and turned him down.

Burton was furious and decided to give up trying for a first and to abandon competition in conventional fields turning instead to the exotic. He started to teach himself Arabic which he later descirbed as "a faithful wife following the mind and giving birth to its offspring." He eventually learnt 2 languages and wnough dialects to add up to 40.

s The devil drives. biog of Burton.

 
Molly Cule
3967.  Thu Jan 08, 2004 8:07 am Reply with quote

Burton tried to get himself rusticated from Oxford so he could pursuade his father to let him join the British army in India. Instead he ended up being expelled for travelling in a tandem to a steeplechase the students had been forbidden to attend whilst he was supposed to be at a lecture. He defended himself saying his decision showed maturity for he was making up his own mind about things. The dons didnt agree and he was expelled. He went straight to London where he told his aunts he was on holiday after receiving a 'double first with highest honours'.

s: The devil drives.

 
Molly Cule
3968.  Thu Jan 08, 2004 8:07 am Reply with quote

Burton tried to get himself rusticated from Oxford so he could pursuade his father to let him join the British army in India. Instead he ended up being expelled for travelling in a tandem to a steeplechase the students had been forbidden to attend whilst he was supposed to be at a lecture. He defended himself saying his decision showed maturity for he was making up his own mind about things. The dons didnt agree and he was expelled. He went straight to London where he told his aunts he was on holiday after receiving a 'double first with highest honours'.

s: The devil drives.

 
Molly Cule
3969.  Thu Jan 08, 2004 8:09 am Reply with quote

Burton could learn a language in 2 months. He learned essential words by carrying lists of them with him and looking at them in 15 minute bursts. After a week of this he had picked up 300 or so words and started to read books alound, and converse with people in their language repeating their words silently to himself to fix pronunciation in his head. He tended to forget the last language learnt when he moved into the next.

s The devil drives

 

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