My Forthcoming Book: Arminius Vambéry and the British Empire
by Dr. David Mandler
It is with great pleasure and gratitude that I announce the publication date of my book as July 16, 2016.
I believe the subject of this book is especially timely. Questions about British self-identity in face of Great Britain’s decision to leave the E.U. along with current issues about the nature of Islam as a religion and as a manifestation of geo-political aspirations are again in the forefront of public discourse. My book may be read as a scholarly examination of these questions (and many more) as they appeared in the 19th century.
This book frames the fascinating life and influential works of the Hungarian Orientalist, Arminius Vambéry (1832–1913) within the context of nineteenth century identity politics and contemporary criticisms of Orientalism. Based on extensive research, the book authoritatively presents a comprehensive narrative of Arminius Vambéry’s multiple identities as represented in Hungary and in Great Britain. The author traces Vambéry’s development from a marginalized Jewish child to a recognized authority on Hungarian ethnogenesis as well as on Central Asian and Turkish geopolitical developments. Throughout the book, the reader meets Vambéry as the Hungarian traveler to Central Asia, the British and Ottoman secret agent, the mostly self-taught professor of Oriental languages, the political pundit, and the highly sought after guest lecturer in Great Britain known for his fierce Russophobe pronouncements. The author devotes special attention to the period that transformed Vambéry from a linguistically talented but penniless Hungarian Jewish youth into a pioneering traveler in the double-disguise of a Turkish effendi masquerading as a dervish to Central Asia in 1863–64. He does so because Vambéry’s published observations of an arena still closed to Europeans facilitated his emergence as a colorful personality and a significant authority on Central Asia and Turkey in Great Britain for the next fifty years. In addition, the book also devotes significant space to Vambéry’s dynamic relationship to his most famous student, Ignác Goldziher (1850–1921), who is considered to be one of the founders of modern Islamic Studies. Lastly, Vambéry’s impact on Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, is also explored.
What Four Scholars Have to Say
Arminius Vambéry is one of the most fascinating figures in modern Jewish history, and David Mandler has provided us with a magnificent depiction of his remarkable life as atraveler to Muslim lands, a linguist, and the toast of nineteenth-century London high society. (Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College)
David Mandler’s exceptionally fine book is a critical biography of Arminius Vambéry, a polymath linguist, traveler, and diplomatic adviser in nineteenth-century Europe. The book offers a human story of this linguistic genius as he grew up in segregated areas of Austria-Hungary but came to know Sultans and Queen Victoria. It also provides an intellectual history of Vambéry’s development of Middle Eastern studies and linguistics, placing him very interestingly in relation to later Orientalists. Dr. Mandler also gives us a compelling story of Vambéry’s importance in nineteenth-century diplomatic and literary relations. This is a sophisticated work that should make a name for Vambéry and for his author—in Vambéry’s case restoring him to his nineteenth-century brilliance and importance. (John Maynard, New York University)
This book challenges and refines Edward Said’s thesis in Orientalism by demonstrating the fundamental role played in the field by the Jewish Hungarian Orientalists Arminius Vambéry and Ignác Goldziher. Their Eastern European origins—in the context of a cultural milieu set on the borders of Europe and Asia in which Islamic and Christian traditions were in certain ways quite closely intertwined—meant that their Orientalist scholarship was not constructed in the absence of the human and social reality that it described, nor was it consciously or unconsciously motivated in terms of an over-riding imperial politics. Dr. Mandler’s important book thus transforms the widespread view that sees Orientalism simply as the West’s construction of the East, and it demonstrates the importance of Hungarian scholarship for European Islamic Studies. (Robert J. C. Young, New York University)
By digging into Hungarian-language sources, David Mandler has revealed a much more nuanced picture of the ‘oriental’ Orientalist Arminius Vambéry. Mandler does a fine job of correcting previous indictments of Vambéry’s ‘charlatanism’ (including that of the great Arabist Ignác Goldziher) and shows us a Vambéry who was, for his day, a well-informed and sympathetic Islamist and an insightful liberal commentator on European political and religious affairs. (Suzanne Marchand, Louisiana State University)
The book is already available for pre-ordering. It is on amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Arminius-Vamb%C3%A9ry-British-Empire-Between/dp/149853824X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467740106&sr=8-1&keywords=David+Mandler
The book would make a good (early) birthday present to anyone interested in books of this kind. It would also help if you let your local libraries know about this book and asked them to acquire a copy.
See the flyer below from Lexington Books for an additional 30% off the listing price.The link below will take you to the publisher’s website where you can enter the code.
The code you need to enter for the 30% discount is LEX30AUTH16.