Friday, 10 August 2018

They Don’t Make Them Like that Any More - Armin Vámbéry

Today in Bratislava I discovered the existence of Armin Vámbéry, a most intriguing figure. Born Herman Wamberger in Bratislava in 1832, to a very poor family, he ended up a British spy, the author of the first German-Turkish dictionary and the “spiritual father” of the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

The first of these pictures shows Vámbéry as a young man. He wrote later about this time in his life, when he was a student at Bratislava (then Pressburg or Pozsony) Evangelical Lyceum, “If that were possible, then every cobble stone in this beautiful city at the blue Danube could tell you about the poverty I experienced here”.

The second picture shows a telegram invitation for Vámbéry to Windsor Castle.
The third and final photograph shows Vámbéry in disguise as his alias Rashid Efendi, a Sunnite dervish. He was the first European with academic education who visited and documented the countries of West and Central Asia (1863-1864) for almost 450 years (that is, the first for almost 450 years, rather than doing it for almost 450 years, which would be truly phenomenal, rather than simply remarkable, which is what Vámbéry was):

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