VOGÜÉ, Marie Eugène Melchior de, Vicomte. Syrie, Palestine, Mont Athos. Voyage aux pays du passé. Troisième édition, Paris, Plon Nourrit, 1887.
The Frenchman Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé (1848-1910) initially followed a career as a diplomat, serving first as an attaché in the French Embassy in Constantinople, and later as secretary in the embassies in Cairo and Saint Petersburg. Subsequently, he abandoned the political scene in order to dedicate himself to literature. In addition to this book, de Vogüé also published "Histoires orientales" (1880) and "Le Roman russe" (1886), his most important work, which introduced Russian literature to the French public. He was elected a member of the Academie Française at the age of just forty. Vogüé translated numerous Russian works into French. In 1878 he married Alexandra Annenkov, sister of General Mikhail Annenkov, builder of the Trans-Siberian railway.
A number of chapters in this edition, which narrates M.E.M. de Vogüé's travels from 1872 to 1875, initially appeared as articles in the periodical Revue de "Deux Mondes". Travel periodicals, such as "Annales des Voyages, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Revue de l’Orient", to which respected scholars and literary figures contributed articles of historical, geographical, political and ethnographical content, enjoyed considerable appeal in the nineteenth century. For a number of decades, from the mid-nineteenth until at least the second decade of the twentieth century, one of these, the French "Revue de Deux Mondes", often published articles on Greece and the Greek presence in the Ottoman Empire in Europe and Asia, usually written by archaeologists, journalists, men of letters and politicians.
As Vogüé notes in his preface, the letters that compose his travel account are addressed to his friend Η. de Pontmartin, who in the end was unable to accompany him in his wanderings. In November 1872 he left Constantinople and sailed via Tenedos to Smyrna, visited Ephesus and continued on to Chios, Rhodes and Cyprus, finally reaching Beirut, Damascus and Palestine. He stayed in the Holy Land for approximately one month, and described the sacred pilgrim sites (Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, etc.). During another of his trips, in 1875, again from Constantinople, he visited Mount Athos.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou