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Travels in the Levant

In 1546, Pierre Belon - already a naturalist of some renown - travelled to Constantinople in the entourage of the French Ambassador to Suleiman the Magnificent. En route, he visited Venice, Ragusa, Corfu and Crete, and over the next two years travelled throughout the Ottoman domains, - to Egypt, Anatolia, Arabia, and the Holy Land - returning to France in 1549. Wherever he went, Belon described plants, birds, mammals and fish, and recorded the customs of the inhabitants - what they ate, how they reared their children - collecting information on almost every aspect of the lands through which he passes. He did not rely on hearsay, on previous accounts, or on authority: what we have are his own observations, and the result of assiduous questioning and meticulous recording. His Observations, 'written in our ordinary French tongue', were published in 1553. In April 1564, Pierre Belon was murdered by persons unknown while crossing the Bois de Boulogne. Although Pierre Belon is well known as a naturalist, and - with his treatises on fish and birds - as a founder of comparative anatomy, his Observations have not previously appeared, in full, in English. Following a distinguished career as a civil servant, James Hogarth acquired a reputation as a versatile and punctilious translator. His translations span travel guides, archaeological texts, and novels. His 2002 translation of Victor Hugo's Travailleurs de la Mer was awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prize. He died in 2006.
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