Memorial Website of Ignaz Goldziher

International contacts

“Answer every letter and take part in the Orientalists’ congresses with lectures”

For Goldziher, who refused to leave his country even for the most enticing job offers, it was of the utmost importance to stay in touch with fellow scholars all over the world, with many of whom he cultivated close friendships. He was active in both correspondence, and conference participation, and encouraged his students to do likewise.

Díszoklevél Goldziher számára a Porosz Tudományos Akadémiától

As witnessed by his correspondence amounting to nearly 13,500 items, whose depth and wide-spread nature surpass the usual scholarly correspondence of the late 19th and early 20th century, he had contact with more than 1,600 persons. His peers frequently turned to him for advice or guidance, and he dutifully answered all letters by return post. Reading these letters, one observes how pen pals changed from colleagues to intimate friends. In addition to letters in German and Hungarian, the correspondence includes French, English, Hebrew, Arabic, Italian, Persian, and Yiddish letters as well.

Goldziher levelezés
The boxes containing the Goldziher correspondence in the Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Photo: János Boromisza, 2018
Address of King Oscar II
The address of King Oscar II with which he handed over to Goldziher the large gold medal. Riddarhuset, Stockholm, 2 September 1889 LHAS Oriental Collection, Goldziher Goldziher 203/1

From 1883 until his death – if circumstances permitted – he regularly attended the international congresses of Orientalists and historians of religion. On such occasions, as a rule, he was the life of the party and kept the conversation going with his delicate, never offending wittiness. At the Orientalist Congress in Stockholm (1899) he received the greatest distinction of his life by being awarded the large gold medal of the congress, and then King Oscar II personally pinned the Knight’s Cross of the Royal Order of Vasa to his chest.

The Eighth International Congress of Orientalists, Stockholm/Uppsala and Christiania (1–14 September 1889)

The Congress’ website

His international fame and his esteem are evidenced by the Festschrifts issued at major anniversaries of his life, together with the Tabula gratulatoria prepared for his 60th birthday, containing names of almost two hundred scholars from all corners of the world. In the preface of a volume which appeared in Strassburg in 1912, celebrating the 40th year of his university service, T. Nöldeke praised his extraordinary knowledge of Arabic and Islamic Studies.

The Universities of Aberdeen and Cambridge conferred honorary doctorates on him, while several academies elected him as an external member. He became a member of the Société Asiatique in Paris, the Asiatic Society of Calcutta, the Cairene Institut d’Égypte, the American Oriental Society, the Société finno-ougrienne (Helsinki) and the International Association for the History of Religions (Stockholm).

In many parts of the world, they relied on his expertise. Soon after his death, a letter from the Persian government requested his assistance in writing the history of the Persian state religion. At the same time, the reminiscences emphasize the patience and kindness shown by this venerable scholar towards his interlocutors, regardless of their age or scholarly status.

The Tabula gratulatoria that was prepared for his 60th birthday.

Entire text in REAL-MS repository

Goldziher in the doctoral gown of Aberdeen University, 1906
Goldziher in the doctoral gown of Aberdeen University, 1906. Photo: Marshall Wane & Co., Edinburgh. Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives,
Goldziher's honorary diploma
The 50th anniversary of Goldziher's doctorate was commemorated by the University of Leipzig. LHAS Oriental Collection, Goldziher/203/4

Related publications

Bibliographic items related to this content

Letter from Ministre de l’Instruction Publique to Ignaz Goldziher

Kézirat. Lelőhely: MTA KIK Keleti Gyűjtemény, GIL/29/36/03


Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und verwandte Gebiete : Fachzeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft : Vol. 26 (1912). Bd. 26 (1912). Berlin

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