chapter  4
Arabic literature for the colonizer and the colonized
Ignaz Goldziher and Hungary’s eastern politics (1878–1918)
ByKatalin Franciska Rac
Pages 23

In 1907, the Austro-Hungarian colonial government of Bosnia-Herzegovina asked the Hungarian Jewish orientalist Ignaz Goldziher (1850–1921) to author a textbook on Arabic literary history for Muslim high school students. 1 On behalf of the Bosnian government, János Krcsmárik, the officer charged with public education and vakuf-affairs (Muslim charity and welfare) and a former student of Goldziher, negotiated the details of the textbook project. In his letters to Goldziher, Krcsmárik emphasized that he was the ideal candidate for this job: “It would be painful to ask a Brockelmann or another foreigner when we have a Goldziher.” 2 Goldziher was to write the textbook in Hungarian, which “would serve national interest,” Krcsmárik wrote, adding that a Bosnian translation would be commissioned by the government. Krcsmárik noted that Muslim leaders in Bosnia knew Goldziher “par renommée.” 3 Therefore, he argued, the Muslim scholars’ review of the textbook, a necessary measure before sending it to print, would be a mere formality.