Memorial Website of Ignaz Goldziher

The Arabist

„Scholarship should be cultivated with enthusiasm”

Ignaz Goldziher’s oeuvre, numbering over 900 items, was extremely diversified, but his main interest focused on Arabic and Islamic Studies. He pursued both fields with the same excellence. Islamic Studies were in fact based on his studies in Europe, where earlier inves­tigations had been characterised by their purely philological approach. While his sensu stricto writings in the field of Arabic Studies reflected his interest in linguistics and literary studies, he made significant contributions to historiography and even geography with some other works.


His first extensive articles dealt with linguistics. In this field, he was most interested in etymology, and in addition to his lengthy articles in foreign languages on this topic, throughout his life, he dedicated articles to Hungarian words of Eastern origin, comparative Semitic linguistics, and Judeo-Arabic texts.

From among his grammatical works mention must be made of his comprehensive study in Hungarian on the Arabic linguistic tradition, unparalleled in European Arabic Studies. Goldziher was not only extremely well-read in literary Arabic, but he was also familiar with some of its spoken dialects. For this reason, he had a penchant for discussing linguistic errors and dialects.

Goldziher, who had an excellent overall grasp of the most diverse themes, devoted lengthy papers to the comprehensive history of Arabic literature.

After the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, Ignaz Goldziher was commissioned to write a history of Arabic literature from the beginning until the end of the nineteenth century as a textbook for Muslim students in the new provinces.

Entire text in REAL-EOD repository

He was primarily occupied with poetry, predominantly pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry. This interest led to his publishing the critical edition of the collected works of the poet al-Hutay’ah whose life spanned both periods. In one of his works, summarising his results in literary theory, which appeared in several versions both in Hungarian and German, Goldziher analysed the poetry of pagan Arabs and pointed out its magical origins.

In one of his early works on historiography, the unification of his historical and literary interests can be observed. Among his historical works we find comprehensive studies, as well as treatments of different periods from the ancient history of Semitic peoples and Arabia up to the modern age. In an outstanding geographical study, he attempted to synthetise literary and geographical knowledge by analysing the toponyms associated with Antarah, an epic hero of Arabic literature. Goldziher regularly wrote reports on the archaeological excavations in the region and prepared the nomenclature of two maps.

Apart from these, he had several smaller works, including more than 200 reviews, which show his diverse interests and the high intensity of his work.

Goldziher’s publications in the Bibliographic database

Goldziher was interested in the archaeology of the Holy Land. The tomb of the patriarchs in Hebron, an illustration from Goldziher’s 1894 article was hanging on the wall of his study. LHAS Oriental Collection, Goldziher/142/102

Related publications

Bibliographic items related to this content

ʽAlî Bâschâ Mubârak, al-Ḫiṭaṭ al-Tawfîqiyya al-ǧadîda li-Miṣr al-Qâhira wa-mudunihâ al-qadîma wa-l-šahîra (Bûlâq, 1306 [1888])

Reviewed author: ʿAlī Mubārak, bāšā

Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 4 (1890) 347-352

[A “kenyér botjának eltörése”, a fogaknak fejérséggel való megverése]

Magyar Nyelv 3 (1907) 383

A Khalifatus 945-ig Kr. u.

Budapest, Kogutowicz, 1896

A Mahdi országából

Budapesti Szemle 88 (1896) 161-194

A muhammedán közvéleményről

Budapesti Szemle 30 (1882) 234-265.

A nap és a hold nevei a sémi nyelvekben

Nyelvtudományi Közlemények 12 (1875) 221–256

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