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The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Who was Omar Khayyam, What is The Rubaiyat and Why was it so Popular???
by

Allen Black

on 1 May 2014

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Transcript of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

What is The Rubaiyat???
Omar Khayyam 1048-1131
He was an Astronomer, Mathematician, and Court Minister
under Sultan Jalal al-Din Malik Shah in 11th cent. Persia
As a Poet he wrote in the
rubi'a
, quatrain style
Khayyam is famous in Iran as a scientist and poet.
He wrote his quatrains as a poetical response
to the issues of his day: the impermance
of life, suffering, authoritarianism,
and the importance of
joy and pleasure.

BBC Video on Omar Khayyam
Edward Fitzgerald 1809 - 1883
Fitzgerald was a wealthy Victoria man of letters who went to Cambridge University and was friends with leading writers of his day such as William Makepeace Thackery, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Thomas Carlyle. In
1859 he translated about 150 of
Khayyam's verses which he
self-published
The Rubaiyat has been pubished in over100 languages and in 1000 editions. It was a cultural phenomena from 1890 to the 1960's. It is still being published and translated today.
A Publishing Phenomena
Hour long documentry on Omar Khayyam

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise now

The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes – or it prospers; and anon
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty face
Lighting a little Hour or two – is gone.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as I went in.

Awake for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo, the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.
Sample Quatrains by
Edward FitzGerald
Who was the author of the Rubaiyat?
Who translated the Rubaiyat to English?
The Art
of the Rubaiyat
Orientalism and
Cultural Exchange

Much has been written about the history of the cultural encounters between "the East" with "the West". Valid issues of appropriation and disavowelment are part of an on-going dialogue between scholars and cultural critics of multiple persuations.
Edward Sa'id
On Orientalism

The dynamics of this exchange is reflected in the life of the Rubaiyat. While Fitzgerald and the verses of the poem became a massively popular cultural phenomena, appreciation of the traditional context of the work was marginal. Contemporary scholarship today is changing this earlier trend, especially in Khayyam's own native country of Iran.
It's really good!!!
The earliest illustrated version of Khayyams verses is found in original Persian collections of the 1500's. In 1884 Houghton Mifflin of Boston published the first illustrated edition of FitzGarald's
Rubaiyat. The earlier part of the 20th century saw a flowering of illustrated editions. See Martin & Mason's The Art of Omar Khayyam
Aminrazavi is author of a major work on Omar Khayyam, "The Wine of Wisdom"
There have been many diverse
translations and interpretations
of the Rubaiyat. Different authors
claim Omar Khayyam a hedonist,
an epicurian, a hidden Sufi mystic.
Whoever he was, his ideas continue
to draw many in search of mystic
revelation and delight.


The Rubaiyat as
Interpretive Space

Mehdi Aminrazavi on "The Wine of Wisdom: The Life, Poetry, and Philosophy of Omar Khayyam"
Full transcript