Vivian Stephens is best known because she started the Romance Writers of America, although as far as I know, she had nothing to do with their recent meltdown. She also donated her library to Bowling Green State University. You may remember the Bowling Green massacre. Or not.
This is even more remarkable because she did it while being black and female, and also just happened to start the genre of “ethnic romance”. She is also credited with making romance fiction steamier and of bringing the novels “behind the bedroom door” which was taboo at the time. I have to admit that the last time I picked up one of these things, something by Judith McNaught I seem to recall, I was quite shocked at the content. Nothing at all like the old Harlequins and Silhouettes, which were all the same: girl meets Bad Boy, girl falls in love with Bad Boy, girl discovers that Bad Boy has socially redeeming qualities after all, they get married, the end. Oh no, in the new romance fiction, they are doing Stuff, and even more shocking, they are doing Stuff outside of their social class. And they still live happily ever after.
In any case, two summers ago the RWA donated a collection of books that were hers when she worked at Dell and Harlequin. The Bowling Green library has a nice page for The Vivian Stephens Collection along with a bio for Stephens, along with the book list, a catalogue with some 57 listings. Here is the first page. The one that really caught my eye though was the last one on the list, The perfumed garden of the Shaykh Nefzawi / translated by Richard F. Burton (from the French and published by Isidore Liseux in 1886), the listed author being “ʻUmar ibn Muḥammad, al-Nafzāwī, active 16th century“. You all know what that means. Yes siree, Public Domain.
We are not talking about the Richard Burton who married Elizabeth Taylor. No, it was the earlier one, Sir Richard Burton, an Arabist in the great British era of Arabists, the one who translated Arabian Nights, and who made a pilgrimage to Mecca in disguise. I have been hearing rumors of some forbidden work for ages, and here it is, dropped into my lap like a ripe plum. Now to find the texts. The obvious translations first:
The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight
(Arabic: الروض العاطر في نزهة الخاطر Al-rawḍ al-ʿāṭir fī nuzhaẗ al-ḫāṭir) )
Also known simply as “Nefzawi” (النفزاوي).
- WikiSource (English) (Arabic – incomplete – Commons PDF)
- Internet Archive (English- The perfumed garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui : a manual of Arabian erotology :by Nafzawi, Umar ibn Muhammad)(audio)(Arabic – النفزاوي الروض العاطر في نزهة الخاطر)
- Hathitrust, The perfumed garden of sensual delight = ar-rawd̲ al-ʻât̲ir fı̂ nuzhatiʼl khât̲ir / by Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi ; translated from the Arabic with a short introduction and notes by Jim Colville, Published 1999, Author Nafzāwī, ʻUmar ibn Muḥammad, Limited (search-only)
- Hathitrust, Le jardin parfumé du cheikh Nefzaoui :manuel d’érotologie arabe, XVIe siècle. 1910, Edition limited to 495 copies.
“Réimpression conforme à l’édition publiée en 1886 par Isidore Liseux.”
Translation of: Rawḍ al-ʻāṭir fī wa-nuzhat al-khāṭir. full view.
- Hathitrust, al-Rawḍ al-ʻāṭir fī nuzhat al-khāṭir[microform] /li-Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Nafzāwī. Wa-yalīhi Kitāb al-Īḍāḥ. Arabic, Tūnis : Maktabat al-Manār, [19–?], Followed by his Kitāb Īḍāḥ fī ʻilm al-nikāḥ (p. 64-end). Limited search only.
- Google books, Harvard College library. (English) Read online.
- Arabic, read online or download PDF.
- Arabic, introduction in plain text, download PDF.
- Le Parfum des Prairies (Le Jardin Parfume) 1860, 1935 reprint (BnF) Read online.
Auteur(s) : Nafzāwī, Muḥammad ibn ´Umar al- Voir les notices liées en tant qu’auteur; Titre(s) : Cheikh Nefzaoui [Texte imprimé] / traduit de l’arabe par monsieur le baron R***, capitaine d’État-Major…; Publication : [S. l.], 1877; Description matérielle : 1 vol. (X-284-XVIII p.,  f. de pl.) : ill. ; in-fol. Read online. Illustrated.