Orientalist, Turkologe, Reisender und vermutlicher Geheimagent in britischen Diensten (1832-1913). Autograph letter signed. Bozen-Gries. 2 SS. auf Doppelblatt. 8vo. Mit eh. adr. Kuvert.
$ 4,977 / 4.500 €
To Betti Figdor in Obermais (Meran), cancelling a meeting due to his rheumatism: "Seitdem ich Ihren werthen Brief erhalten habe ich mich immer gefreut Sie sehen und begrüssen zu können. Leider hat mir aber mein Übel, ich leide an Fussrheumatismus, einen Strich durch die Rechnung gemacht. Ich wage es nicht einen grösseren Ausflug zu machen, und muss daher auf das Vergnügen verzichten [...]". - The Hungarian-born linguist and traveller Vámbéry set out from Constantinople in 1861 disguised as a Sunni dervish under the name of Reshit Efendi, journeying from Trebizond on the Black Sea to Tehran in Persia, where he joined a band of pilgrims returning from Mecca and spent several months with them travelling across Central Iran.
He proceeded to Shiraz, through Ispahan, and in 1863 reached Khiva, Bokhara, and Samarkand. He returned to Constantinople in 1864, having maintained his disguise throughout this time. This was the first successful journey of its kind undertaken by a European through Armenia, Persia and Turkestan, which were then hermetically closed to westerners, and since it was necessary to avoid suspicion, Vámbéry could not take even fragmentary notes, except by stealth. His "Travels in Central Asia" were published in 1865 and made him an internationally renowned celebrity. In 2005 de-classified files in the Public Record Office (then the National Archives) revealed that Vámbéry had been employed by the British Foreign Office as an agent and spy whose task it was to combat Russian attempts at gaining ground in Central Asia and threatening the British position on the Indian sub-continent. In London, Vámbéry was acquainted with Bram Stoker, who claimed him as his consultant and inspiration for "Dracula"..