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The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

by Omar Khayyám, Edward FitzGerald (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,254541,906 (3.95)48
'The Moving Finger writes; and, having writMoves on: nor all thy Piety nor WitShall lure it back to cancel half a lineNor all thy tears wash out a word of it.'In the 'rubaiyat' (short epigrammatic poems) of the medieval Persian poet, mathematician, and philosopher Omar Khayyam, Edward FitzGerald saw an unflinching challenge to the illusions and consolations of mankind in every age. His version of Omar is neither a translation nor an independent poem;sceptical of divine providence and insistent on the pleasure of the passing moment, its 'Orientalism' offers FitzGerald a powerful and distinctive voice, in whose accents a whole Victorian generation comes to life. Although the poem's vision is bleak, it is conveyed in some of the most beautifuland haunting images in English poetry - and some of the sharpest- edged. The poem sold no copies at all on its first appearance in 1859, yet when it was 'discovered' two years later its first admirers included Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Swinburne, and Ruskin. Daniel Karlin's richly annotated editiondoes justice to the scope and complexity of FitzGerald's lyrical meditation on 'human death and fate'.… (more)

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» See also 48 mentions

English (51)  Tagalog (1)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
When people say a book is difficult to read they normally mean there is something intrinsically challenging about the text. Ulysses is difficult because, well, it's by James Joyce; The Tale of Genji is difficult because there are five hundred characters spanning half a century, and no one has a name. But this edition of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is the first book I've read that was difficult to read from a purely mechanical point of view.

After the book's thorough and interesting introduction we come to the reproduction of the original book. FitzGerald didn't want to ruin the text of the poem with footnotes, so uses endnotes, marked out by numeric superscripts. So far so good. Daniel Karlin, this edition's editor, wants to respect FitzGerald's wishes so also omits footnotes and moreover omits any superscripts to inform the reader of the presence of one of his endnotes. So now not only does the reader need to mark three pages simultaneously, the poem, FitzGerald's endnotes, and Karlin's end-endnotes, but also he must keep flicking to the latter of the three in case Karlin has just pointed out something useful. (In fact for the full experience one should mark a fourth set of pages where variants are included for each stanza from the five different editions of FitzGerald's work.)

Having virtually dislocated my fingers after three stanzas in order to keep up with this merry charade I felt obliged to utter a playground epithet pointing out that this style of reading was a poor substitute for a game of soliders. And so I gave up on Karlin's end-endnotes and made do with Fitzgerald's, referring to Karlin's only if something I really didn't understand came up. And then I re-read the poem using Karlin's notes rather than Fitzgerald's. And then I read the variant stanzas, and the intriguing appendices. Suffice it to that once I figured out how to read the book I really did enjoy it. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
When people say a book is difficult to read they normally mean there is something intrinsically challenging about the text. Ulysses is difficult because, well, it's by James Joyce; The Tale of Genji is difficult because there are five hundred characters spanning half a century, and no one has a name. But this edition of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is the first book I've read that was difficult to read from a purely mechanical point of view.

After the book's thorough and interesting introduction we come to the reproduction of the original book. FitzGerald didn't want to ruin the text of the poem with footnotes, so uses endnotes, marked out by numeric superscripts. So far so good. Daniel Karlin, this edition's editor, wants to respect FitzGerald's wishes so also omits footnotes and moreover omits any superscripts to inform the reader of the presence of one of his endnotes. So now not only does the reader need to mark three pages simultaneously, the poem, FitzGerald's endnotes, and Karlin's end-endnotes, but also he must keep flicking to the latter of the three in case Karlin has just pointed out something useful. (In fact for the full experience one should mark a fourth set of pages where variants are included for each stanza from the five different editions of FitzGerald's work.)

Having virtually dislocated my fingers after three stanzas in order to keep up with this merry charade I felt obliged to utter a playground epithet pointing out that this style of reading was a poor substitute for a game of soliders. And so I gave up on Karlin's end-endnotes and made do with Fitzgerald's, referring to Karlin's only if something I really didn't understand came up. And then I re-read the poem using Karlin's notes rather than Fitzgerald's. And then I read the variant stanzas, and the intriguing appendices. Suffice it to that once I figured out how to read the book I really did enjoy it. ( )
  leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
I read the version on iBooks. The first edition is better than the fifth, but more abstract and metaphorical. I liked it a lot. Read the intro, and some of the Wikipedia page to get a sense of it before you dive in; it makes little sense without context. ( )
  jtth | May 4, 2020 |
You'd think I'd react with dismay
to these poems, so cliche
but really what's past is so profound
when we look at it today.

I think that it could not be worse
to write reviews in bad verse
but once the joke has got its grip
there's no escape; it is my curse. ( )
1 vote ralphpalm | Nov 11, 2019 |
Beautifully illustrated in an art deco style in both coloured and b&w line drawings. ( )
  nadineeg | Oct 9, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (121 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Khayyám, Omarprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
FitzGerald, EdwardTranslatormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, MarjorieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Batson, H.M.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brangwyn, FrankIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckley, Jerome H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buday, GeorgeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bull, RenéIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burnett, VirgilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caird, Margaret R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Claes, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coley, Louis B.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cueto, Pedro RamírezTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Darrow, ClarenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, DickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dole, Nathan HaskellEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dulac, EdmundIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emerson, Ralph WaldoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Esfandiary, Hossein-Ali NouriEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Etessam-Zader, A.-G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Farassat, M.Z.Calligraphysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fish, Anne HarrietIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gebhard, CatherineIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giusti, GeorgeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hanscom, AdelaideIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hay, JohnContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hedayat, SadiqEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hemmant, LynnetteEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JeffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Housman, LaurenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hubbard, ElbertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huygens, F.P.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
James, GilbertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karlin, DannyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Katchadourian, SarkisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Katchadourian, StinaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ku, A.W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laws, Ernest E.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Machiani, H.A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maine, George F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Myers, Thomas C.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pogány, WillyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puttapipat, NirootIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Radó, AnthonyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rees, T. IforTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rittenhouse, Jessie BelleContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, B.W.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, AliceContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, E. D.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, GordonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sayah, MahmoudIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schagen, Johan vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scollay, SusanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sherriffs, Robert StewertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, Edmund J.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szyk, ArthurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Untermeyer, LouisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vedder, ElihuIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Welsh Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Cyflwynedig i J. E. J.
First words
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 Sultán's Turret in a Noose of Light.
Introduction: In 1861 a bundle of pamphlets was placed on a second-hand bookstall in London for clearance at a penny apiece.
- Version "Published for the Classics Club"
Quotations
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on;
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Edward FitzGerald translations of The Rubáiyát of Omar Kayyam into English are generally considered to have been paraphrased to the point that "inspired by" may be more accurate than "translated from." Most popular editions of the Rubáiyát use the FitzGerald verses both because of their intrinsic value and because it is no longer in copyright. This work consists of all editions that can reasonably be attributed to FitzGerald, by means of title, ISBN or author credit. Books that contain the Fitzgerald translation as well as other, more literal translations are combined with the other translations of the Rubáiyát. Please do not combine this FitzGerald work with other translations.
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