Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Giovanni Finati 2 Volume Set
29 Apr 2018
Cambridge University Press
The traveller and antiquary William John Bankes (1786-1855) was a friend of Lord Byron, who described him as the 'father of all mischief' in their student coterie. Travelling abroad after being rejected in marriage by the future Lady Byron, Bankes reached Cairo in 1815, and decided to go down the Nile with a hired interpreter and guide, Giovanni Finati (1786-1829?), whose memoirs he translated from the Italian and published in this two-volume 1830 work. Born near Ferrara, and destined for the priesthood, Finati was pressed into Napoleon's army, and after various vicissitudes ended up a slave in a quarry in Ottoman Montenegro. In order to obtain his freedom, he converted to Islam, and took the name Mahomet, after which he managed to escape to Egypt. His subsequent exploits and experiences are described in this lively and remarkable account, which Bankes took pains to verify from historical records.