What do fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, Yugoslavian dictator Josip Broz Tito, Brazilian soccer star Pelé and financier George Soros have in common? They all share an interest in Esperanto, an invented language whose goal is to unite humankind.
“Nekredebla,” you might be thinking (that’s Esperanto for “incredible”). But not so quick — other well known figures have also supported the language, including Leo Tolstoy, the grand old man of European letters.
On December 15 some 70 Esperanto enthusiasts descended on a building near the United Nations for the Universal Esperanto Association’s Zamenhof Symposium 2010. The meeting drew people from a wide range of ages, religions and backgrounds. Human rights lawyer Ugoji Eze, born of a Jewish mother and Nigerian father and a member of Young Israel of West Hempstead, was not an atypical participant.
Philosophy is what matters most to George Soros, I learned the other day after an elegant party at Soros’s duplex Manhattan apartment (I was invited by a mutual friend) celebrating the latest recording of Bartók by Angela & Jennifer Chun, a Korean-born sister team of violinists.
I shared a cab on the way home with the veteran dance legend Jacques d’Amboise, a longtime Soros chum, who explains that despite the concert which Soros presided over in a room subtly decorated with American Impressionist paintings, music does not rank highest among his passions. “Not economics, either, certainly!” continues the ever-ebullient d’Amboise, who was seen in 2008 in an HBO Documentary “Jacques d’Amboise in China.” Philosophy is what Soros, son of the Hungarian Jewish doctor and author Tivadar Soros (1894–1968), prizes the most.