ORIENTAL ESSAYS –
Portraits of Seven Scholars
This book is a collection of portraits (one a self-portrait) of seven Englishmen who at different times and in different ways have striven, consciously or unconsciously, by the exercise of somewhat specialized skills to help build a bridge between the peoples and cultures of Asia and Europe. A. J. Arberry has chosen as the subjects of his portraits a handful of those many who have devoted their talents and their lives to a labour often little appreciated and dismally unrewarding, yet supremely important to the future of humanity at large. The selection, unlike his British Orientalists, has been confined to those who have worked in Arberry’s own field of study, and whose contributions to scholarship and to international understanding he was therefore better qualified to estimate. A. J. Arberry has addressed himself to the general public in this work and has explained, in the last chapter, some of the considerations which had determined his own activities as a scholar, and has offered a few general observations on the present and future of oriental studies. It is hoped that what Arberry has written will encourage others in years to come to endeavour, as he had sought to do, to keep faith with those who have gone before, men of heroic stature, whose achievements will, we are confident, be ever more widely and more deeply recognized with the passage of time.