Shengren – Chapter 1.4.4 – The Sponsors

The class of sponsors in German Oriental studies is the last one in our list, but not the least important. It consists of thinkers who avoided philosophical systems (unlike the philosophers); who escaped the limitations of professional scholarship (unlike the orientalists); and who failed to practice Oriental traditions (unlike the practitioners). Instead, the sponsors – through their immense influence on literature, zeitgeist and/or public opinion – dramatically changed the German perception of the Orient. “Sponsors” here is the term of choice, they could also be called Begeisterte (enthusiasts), Kulturmeister (cultural masters), or sponsors of Oriental culture. Moreover, this class covers personalities of the greatest variety, like the great Goethe, the spiritual writer Hermann Hesse, the musical genius Wilhelm R. Wagner, the politician and reformer Friedrich von Humboldt, the influential missionaries and travel writers Albert Grünwedel and Karl Gützlaff, to name but a few.