I don’t link to Poemas del río Wang as often as I probably should, because I figure everyone goes there as regularly as I do. But sometimes I just can’t resist. His post Man with a cat begins: “As in China with the ascension of each new emperor the years started being counted from zero, so the time of Studiolum is divided by the protagonists of the projects following each other. … The era that began in this March is marked by the name of the greatest Hungarian Iranologist Sándor Kégl (1862-1920).” This guy Kégl makes me feel lazy and stupid:
The knowledge of foreign languages was self-evident in his family whose members spoke and wrote to each other just as often in English or French as in Hungarian. Nevertheless, Sándor surpassed everyone. To the astonishment of his professors, already at high school he read all literature in the original – Latin, Greek, German, English, French, Italian – languages, and in the following four years he perfectly acquired Russian, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Spanish and Portuguese. After the main European languages he turned to the Oriental ones, and mastered Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, Tatar and Sanskrit. He kept learning languages all along his life: he learned a number of other Iranian and Indian languages, living and dead Scandinavian dialects, and during WWI he even learned Chuvash and Mordvin from the captive soldiers of the Russian army working on his estates.
He studied with Ármin Vámbéry, another amazing polyglot, and went off to Persia to study the language and collect manuscripts, which he later edited and published.
On his return he became a private lecturer of Persian language and literature at the University of Budapest, but he also taught Indology and held comparative courses in Persian and Sanskrit epic poetry – all for passion, without any remuneration. Twice a week he made the equipage harnessed, went to the local railway station, then from the Eastern Railway Station of Budapest he went by droshky to the university. After his lessons he immediately returned to his estates where he spent the largest part of his time by learning languages, reading, writing essays and increasing his library. It is typical of the period that the bookshops of the nearest little town immediately provided him with the most recent scholarly books and reviews from all over the world, from London through Saint-Petersburg to India.
What a life! There are, of course, the numerous images one expects at río Wang, as well as links that could easily eat up a day or more if you explored them as they deserve, and the post ends with a series of photos of “the veritable lords of the estate: the cats.”
The follow-up post, Ways, examines Kégl’s trip to Persia, which took him through Eastern Anatolia (of which there are evocative color photos), Tiflis/Tbilisi (of which there is an even more evocative black-and-white photo, taken between 1891 and 1916), and Baku, where an Azeri bey inscribed a copy of Ivan Goncharov’s book Fregat Pallada for him in Russian. This leads Studiolum to an excursus on albums, in the course of which he links to the Album Amicorum of Ferenc Pápai Páriz, Jr., “that he carried with himself on his one and half decade long European peregrination (1711-1726)”:
The 122 pages of the Album preserve nice mementos written in Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Spanish or Syriac – and in many cases in more than one language – by English, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Polish and Swiss personalities: bishops, professors, physicians as well as many students that became celebrities of the next generation. The notes are regularly composed of a quotation, a motto and a recommendation, followed by a signature. You can browse in them by persons, places, dates or the original pages. We have managed to identify almost all the persons who made their notes in the Album: we also include their biographies. Our publication is further enriched with maps, with frontispieces of some important works, as well as portraits of the persons. We cordially recommend it to the attention of every visitor of us.
And I cordially recommend it as well. What treasures the internet holds!