Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Printed: 1906

Publisher: William Heinemann. London

Dimensions 10 × 15 × 2 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 10 x 15 x 2


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very fine binding by Zaehndorf. Dark brown calf binding with gilt title, raised gilt decorated banding on the spine. Gilt on all edges.

A magnificent copy printed in 1906

A 1906 Reprint prompted by Bernard Alfred Quaritch, of his father’s the 1st edition of1859 which consisted of 75 quatrains

The authenticity of the poetry attributed to Omar Khayyam is highly uncertain. Khayyam was famous during his lifetime not as a poet but as an astronomer and mathematician. The earliest reference to his having written poetry is found in his biography by al-Isfahani, written 43 years after his death. This view is reinforced by other medieval historians such as Shahrazuri (1201) and Al-Qifti (1255). Parts of the Rubaiyat appear as incidental quotations from Omar in early works of biography and in anthologies. These include works of Razi (ca. 1160–1210), Daya (1230), Juvayni (ca. 1226–1283), and Jajarmi (1340). Also, five quatrains assigned to Khayyam in somewhat later sources appear in Zahiri Samarqandi’s Sindbad-Nameh (before 1160) without attribution.

The number of quatrains attributed to him in more recent collections varies from about 1,200 (according to Saeed Nafisi) to more than 2,000. Skeptical scholars point out that the entire tradition may be pseudepigraphic. The extant manuscripts containing collections attributed to Omar are dated much too late to enable a reconstruction of a body of authentic verses.

In the 1930s, Iranian scholars, notably Mohammad-Ali Foroughi, attempted to reconstruct a core of authentic verses from scattered quotes by authors of the 13th and 14th centuries, ignoring the younger manuscript tradition. After World War II, reconstruction efforts were significantly delayed by two clever forgeries. De Blois (2004) is pessimistic, suggesting that contemporary scholarship has not advanced beyond the situation of the 1930s, when Hans Heinrich Schaeder commented that the name of Omar Khayyam “is to be struck out from the history of Persian literature”.

A feature of the more recent collections is the lack of linguistic homogeneity and continuity of ideas. Sadegh Hedayat commented that “if a man had lived for a hundred years and had changed his religion, philosophy, and beliefs twice a day, he could scarcely have given expression to such a range of ideas”. Hedayat’s final verdict was that 14 quatrains could be attributed to Khayyam with certainty. Various tests have been employed to reduce the quatrains attributable to Omar to about 100. Arthur Christensen states that “of more than 1,200 ruba’is known to be ascribed to Omar, only 121 could be regarded as reasonably authentic”. Foroughi accepts 178 quatrains as authentic, while Ali Dashti accepts 36 of them.

FitzGerald’s source was transcripts sent to him in 1856–57, by his friend and teacher Edward B. Cowell, of two manuscripts, a Bodleian manuscript with 158 quatrains and a “Calcutta manuscript”.

FitzGerald completed his first draft in 1857 and sent it to Fraser’s Magazine in January 1858. He made a revised draft in January 1859, of which he privately printed 250 copies. This first edition became extremely sought after by the 1890s, when “more than two million copies ha[d] been sold in two hundred editions”.

 FitzGerald’s text was published in five editions, with substantial revisions:

  • 1st edition – 1859 [75 quatrains]
  • 2nd edition – 1868 [110 quatrains]
  • 3rd edition – 1872 [101 quatrains]
    • 1878, “first American edition”, reprint of the 3rd ed.
  • 4th edition – 1879 [101 quatrains]
  • 5th edition – 1889 [101 quatrains]

Of the five editions published, four were published under the authorial control of FitzGerald. The fifth edition, which contained only minor changes from the fourth, was edited posthumously on the basis of manuscript revisions FitzGerald had left.

Numerous later editions were published after 1889, notably an edition with illustrations by Willy Pogany first published in 1909 (George G. Harrap, London). It was issued in numerous revised editions. This edition combined FitzGerald’s texts of the 1st and 4th editions and was subtitled “The First and Fourth Renderings in English Verse”.

A bibliography of editions compiled in 1929 listed more than 300 separate editions. Many more have been published since.

Notable editions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries include: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. (1887, 1888, 1894); Doxey, At the Sign of the Lark (1898, 1900), illustrations by Florence Lundborg; The Macmillan Company (1899); Methuen (1900) with a commentary by H.M. Batson, and a biographical introduction by E.D. Ross; Little, Brown, and Company (1900), with the versions of E.H. Whinfield and Justin Huntly McCart; Bell (1901); Routledge (1904); Foulis (1905, 1909); Essex House Press (1905); Dodge Publishing Company (1905); Duckworth & Co. (1908); Hodder and Stoughton (1909), illustrations by Edmund Dulac; Tauchnitz (1910); East Anglian Daily Times (1909), Centenary celebrations souvenir; Warner (1913); The Roycrofters (1913); Hodder & Stoughton (1913), illustrations by René Bull; Dodge Publishing Company (1914), illustrations by Adelaide Hanscom. Sully and Kleinteich (1920).

Critical editions have been published by Decker (1997) and by Arberry (2016).

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his 1859 translation from Persian to English of a selection of quatrains (rubāʿiyāt) attributed to Omar Khayyam (1048–1131), dubbed “the Astronomer-Poet of Persia”.

Although commercially unsuccessful at first, FitzGerald’s work was popularised from 1861 onward by Whitley Stokes, and the work came to be greatly admired by the Pre-Raphaelites in England. FitzGerald had a third edition printed in 1872, which increased interest in the work in the United States. By the 1880s, the book was extremely popular throughout the English-speaking world, to the extent that numerous “Omar Khayyam clubs” were formed and there was a “fin de siècle cult of the Rubaiyat”.

FitzGerald’s work has been published in several hundred editions and has inspired similar translation efforts in English and in many other languages.

The extreme popularity of FitzGerald’s work led to a prolonged debate on the correct interpretation of the philosophy behind the poems. FitzGerald emphasised the religious skepticism he found in Omar Khayyam. In his preface to the Rubáiyát, he describes Omar’s philosophy as Epicurean and claims that Omar was “hated and dreaded by the Sufis, whose practice he ridiculed and whose faith amounts to little more than his own, when stripped of the Mysticism and formal recognition of Islamism under which Omar would not hide”. Richard Nelson Frye also emphasises that Khayyam was despised by a number of prominent contemporary Sufis. These include figures such as Shams Tabrizi, Najm al-Din Daya, Al-Ghazali, and Attar, who “viewed Khayyam not as a fellow-mystic, but a free-thinking scientist”. The sceptic interpretation is supported by the medieval historian Al-Qifti (ca. 1172–1248), who in his The History of Learned Men reports that Omar’s poems were only outwardly in the Sufi style but were written with an anti-religious agenda. He also mentions that Khayyam was indicted for impiety and went on a pilgrimage to avoid punishment.

Critics of FitzGerald, on the other hand, have accused the translator of misrepresenting the mysticism of Sufi poetry by an overly literal interpretation. Thus, the view of Omar Khayyam as a Sufi was defended by Bjerregaard (1915). Dougan (1991) likewise says that attributing hedonism to Omar is due to the failings of FitzGerald’s translation, arguing that the poetry is to be understood as “deeply esoteric”. Idries Shah (1999) similarly says that FitzGerald misunderstood Omar’s poetry.

The Sufi interpretation is the view of a minority of scholars. Henry Beveridge states that “the Sufis have unaccountably pressed this writer [Khayyam] into their service; they explain away some of his blasphemies by forced interpretations, and others they represent as innocent freedoms and reproaches”. Aminrazavi (2007) states that “Sufi interpretation of Khayyam is possible only by reading into his Rubaiyat extensively and by stretching the content to fit the classical Sufi doctrine”.

FitzGerald’s “skepticist” reading of the poetry is still defended by modern scholars. Sadegh Hedayat (The Blind Owl, 1936) was the most notable modern proponent of Khayyam’s philosophy as agnostic skepticism. In his introductory essay to his second edition of the Quatrains of the Philosopher Omar Khayyam (1922), Hedayat states that “while Khayyam believes in the transmutation and transformation of the human body, he does not believe in a separate soul; if we are lucky, our bodily particles would be used in the making of a jug of wine”. He concludes that “religion has proved incapable of surmounting his inherent fears; thus Khayyam finds himself alone and insecure in a universe about which his knowledge is nil”. In his later work (Khayyam’s Quatrains, 1935), Hedayat further maintains that Khayyam’s usage of Sufic terminology such as “wine” is literal, and that “Khayyam took refuge in wine to ward off bitterness and to blunt the cutting edge of his thoughts.”

 Edward FitzGerald or Fitzgerald (31 March 1809 – 14 June 1883) was an English poet and writer. His most famous poem is the first and best-known English translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which has kept its reputation and popularity since the 1860s.

Little was known of FitzGerald personally until his close friend and literary executor W. Aldis Wright, published his three-volume Letters and Literary Remains in 1889 and the Letters to Fanny Kemble in 1895. These letters reveal that FitzGerald was a witty, picturesque, and sympathetic letter writer. The late 19th-century English novelist George Gissing found them interesting enough to read the three-volume collection twice, in 1890 and 1896. This included some of Fitzgerald’s letters to Fanny Kemble. Gissing also read the 1895 volume of letters in December of that year. FitzGerald was unobtrusive personally, but in the 1890s, his distinctive individuality gradually gained a broad influence over English belles-lettres.

FitzGerald’s emotional life was complex. He was extremely close to many friends, among them William Browne, who was 16 when they met. Browne’s tragically early death in a horse-riding accident was a catastrophe for FitzGerald. Later, FitzGerald became close to a fisherman named Joseph Fletcher, with whom he had bought a herring boat. While it appears, there are no contemporary sources on the matter, a number of present-day academics and journalists believe FitzGerald to have been a homosexual. With Professor Daniel Karlin writing in his introduction to the 2009 edition of Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám that “His [FitzGerald] homoerotic feelings (…) were probably unclear to him, at least in the form conveyed by our word ‘gay'”,it is unclear whether FitzGerald himself ever identified himself as a homosexual or acknowledged himself to be one.

FitzGerald grew disenchanted with Christianity and eventually ceased to attend church. This drew the attention of the local pastor, who stopped by. FitzGerald reportedly told him that his decision to absent himself was the fruit of long and hard meditation. When the pastor protested, FitzGerald showed him the door and said, “Sir, you might have conceived that a man does not come to my years of life without thinking much of these things. I believe I may say that I have reflected [on] them fully as much as yourself. You need not repeat this visit.”

The 1908 book Edward Fitzgerald and “Posh”: Herring Merchants (Including letters from E. Fitzgerald to J. Fletcher) recounts the friendship of Fitzgerald with Joseph Fletcher (born June 1838), nicknamed “Posh”, who was still living when James Blyth started researching for the book. Posh is also often present in Fitzgerald’s letters. Documentary data about the Fitzgerald–Posh partnership are available at the Port of Lowestoft Research Society. Posh died at Mutford Union workhouse, near Lowestoft, on 7 September 1915, at the age of 76.

Fitzgerald was termed “almost vegetarian”, as he ate meat only in other people’s houses. His biographer Thomas Wright noted that “though never a strict vegetarian, his diet was mainly bread and fruit.” Several years before his death, FitzGerald said of his diet, “Tea, pure and simple, with bread-and-butter, is the only meal I do care to join in.”

In 1853, FitzGerald issued Six Dramas of Calderon, freely translated. He then turned to Oriental studies, and in 1856 published anonymously a version of the Salámán and Absál of Jami in Miltonic verse. In March 1857, Cowell discovered a set of Persian quatrains by Omar Khayyám in the Asiatic Society library, Calcutta, and sent them to FitzGerald. At the time, the name with which FitzGerald has been so closely identified first occurs in his correspondence: “Hafiz and Omar Khayyam ring like true metal.” On 15 January 1859, an anonymous pamphlet appeared as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. In the world at large and the circle of FitzGerald’s close friends, the poem seems at first to have attracted no attention. The publisher allowed it to gravitate to a fourpenny or even (as he afterwards boasted) to a penny box on the bookstalls.

However, it was discovered in 1861 by Rossetti and soon after by Swinburne and Lord Houghton. The Rubaiyat slowly became famous, but it was not until 1868 that FitzGerald was encouraged to print a second, greatly revised edition of it. He had produced in 1865 a version of the Agamemnon, and two more plays from Calderón. In 1880–1881, he privately issued translations of the two Oedipus tragedies. His last publication was Readings in Crabbe, 1882. He left in manuscript a version of Attar of Nishapur’s Mantic-Uttair. This last translation FitzGerald called “A Bird’s-Eye view of the Bird Parliament”, whittling the Persian original (some 4500 lines) down to a more manageable 1500 lines in English. Some have called this translation a virtually unknown masterpiece.

From 1861 onwards, FitzGerald’s greatest interest had been in the sea. In June 1863 he bought a yacht, “The Scandal”, and in 1867 he became part-owner of a herring lugger, the Meum and Tuum (“mine and thine”). For some years up to 1871, he spent his summers “knocking about somewhere outside of Lowestoft.” He died in his sleep in 1883 and was buried in the graveyard at St Michael’s Church in Boulge, Suffolk. He was in his own words “an idle fellow, but one whose friendships were more like loves.” In 1885 his fame was enhanced by Tennyson’s dedication of his Tiresias to FitzGerald’s memory, in some reminiscent verses to “Old Fitz.”

 Omar Khayyam (18 May 1048 – 4 December 1131) was a Persian polymath, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet. He was born in Neyshabur, in northeastern Persia, and was contemporary with the rule of the Seljuks around the time of the First Crusade.

As a mathematician, he is most notable for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations, where he provided geometric solutions by the intersection of conics. Khayyam also contributed to the understanding of the parallel axiom. As an astronomer, he designed the Jalali calendar, a solar calendar with a very precise 33-year intercalation cycle that provided the basis for the Persian calendar that is still in use after nearly a millennium.

There is a tradition of attributing poetry to Omar Khayyam, written in the form of quatrains. This poetry became widely known to the English-reading world in a translation by Edward FitzGerald (Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1859), which enjoyed great success in the Orientalism of the fin de siècle.

Omar Khayyam was born in 1048 in Nishapur, a leading metropolis in Khorasan during medieval times that reached its zenith of prosperity in the eleventh century under the Seljuq dynasty. Nishapur was also a major center of the Zoroastrian religion, and it is likely that Khayyam’s father was a Zoroastrian who had converted to Islam. His full name, as it appears in the Arabic sources, was Abu’l Fath Omar ibn Ibrahim al-Khayyam. In medieval Persian texts he is usually simply called Omar Khayyam. Although open to doubt, it has often been assumed that his forebears followed the trade of tent-making, since Khayyam means tentmaker in Arabic. The historian Bayhaqi, who was personally acquainted with Omar, provides the full details of his horoscope: “he was Gemini, the sun and Mercury being in the ascendant[…]” This was used by modern scholars to establish his date of birth as 18 May 1048.

His boyhood was spent in Nishapur. His gifts were recognized by his early tutors who sent him to study under Imam Muwaffaq Nishaburi, the greatest teacher of the Khorasan region who tutored the children of the highest nobility. Omar made a great friendship with him through the years. Khayyam was also taught by the Zoroastrian convert mathematician, Abu Hassan Bahmanyar bin Marzban. After studying science, philosophy, mathematics and astronomy at Nishapur, about the year 1068 he travelled to the province of Bukhara, where he frequented the renowned library of the Ark. In about 1070 he moved to Samarkand, where he started to compose his famous treatise on algebra under the patronage of Abu Tahir Abd al-Rahman ibn ʿAlaq, the governor and chief judge of the city. Omar Khayyam was kindly received by the Karakhanid ruler Shams al-Mulk Nasr, who according to Bayhaqi, would “show him the greatest honour, so much so that he would seat [Omar] beside him on his throne”.

In 1073–4 peace was concluded with Sultan Malik-Shah I who had made incursions into Karakhanid dominions. Khayyam entered the service of Malik-Shah in 1074–5 when he was invited by the Grand Vizier Nizam al-Mulk to meet Malik-Shah in the city of Marv. Khayyam was subsequently commissioned to set up an observatory in Isfahan and lead a group of scientists in carrying out precise astronomical observations aimed at the revision of the Persian calendar. The undertaking began probably in 1076 and ended in 1079 when Omar Khayyam and his colleagues concluded their measurements of the length of the year, reporting it to 14 significant figures with astounding accuracy.

After the death of Malik-Shah and his vizier (murdered, it is thought, by the Ismaili order of Assassins), Omar fell from favour at court, and as a result, he soon set out on his pilgrimage to Mecca. A possible ulterior motive for his pilgrimage reported by Al-Qifti, was a public demonstration of his faith with a view to allaying suspicions of skepticism and confuting the allegations of unorthodoxy (including possible sympathy to Zoroastrianism) levelled at him by a hostile clergy. He was then invited by the new Sultan Sanjar to Marv, possibly to work as a court astrologer. He was later allowed to return to Nishapur owing to his declining health. Upon his return, he seems to have lived the life of a recluse.

Omar Khayyam died at the age of 83 in his hometown of Nishapur on 4 December 1131, and he is buried in what is now the Mausoleum of Omar Khayyam. One of his disciples Nizami Aruzi relates the story that sometime during 1112–3 Khayyam was in Balkh in the company of Al-Isfizari (one of the scientists who had collaborated with him on the Jalali calendar) when he made a prophecy that “my tomb shall be in a spot where the north wind may scatter roses over it”. Four years after his death, Aruzi located his tomb in a cemetery in a then large and well-known quarter of Nishapur on the road to Marv. As it had been foreseen by Khayyam, Aruzi found the tomb situated at the foot of a garden-wall over which pear trees and peach trees had thrust their heads and dropped their flowers so that his tombstone was hidden beneath them.

 The earliest allusion to Omar Khayyam’s poetry is from the historian Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani, a younger contemporary of Khayyam, who explicitly identifies him as both a poet and a scientist (Kharidat al-qasr, 1174). One of the earliest specimens of Omar Khayyam’s Rubiyat is from Fakhr al-Din Razi. In his work Al-tanbih ‘ala ba‘d asrar al-maw‘dat fi’l-Qur’an (ca. 1160), he quotes one of his poems (corresponding to quatrain LXII of FitzGerald’s first edition). Daya in his writings (Mirsad al-‘Ibad, ca. 1230) quotes two quatrains, one of which is the same as the one already reported by Razi. An additional quatrain is quoted by the historian Juvayni (Tarikh-i Jahangushay, ca. 1226–1283). In 1340 Jajarmi includes thirteen quatrains of Khayyam in his work containing an anthology of the works of famous Persian poets (Munis al-ahrār), two of which have hitherto been known from the older sources. A comparatively late manuscript is the Bodleian MS. Ouseley 140, written in Shiraz in 1460, which contains 158 quatrains on 47 folia. The manuscript belonged to William Ouseley (1767–1842) and was purchased by the Bodleian Library in 1844.

There are occasional quotes of verses attributed to Omar in texts attributed to authors of the 13th and 14th centuries, but these are of doubtful authenticity, so that skeptical scholars point out that the entire tradition may be pseudepigraphic.

Hans Heinrich Schaeder in 1934 commented that the name of Omar Khayyam “is to be struck out from the history of Persian literature” due to the lack of any material that could confidently be attributed to him. De Blois (2004) presents a bibliography of the manuscript tradition, concluding pessimistically that the situation has not changed significantly since Schaeder’s time. Five of the quatrains later attributed to Omar are found as early as 30 years after his death, quoted in Sindbad-Nameh. While this establishes that these specific verses were in circulation in Omar’s time or shortly later, it doesn’t imply that the verses must be his. De Blois concludes that at the least the process of attributing poetry to Omar Khayyam appears to have begun already in the 13th century. Edward Granville Browne (1906) notes the difficulty of disentangling authentic from spurious quatrains: “while it is certain that Khayyam wrote many quatrains, it is hardly possible, save in a few exceptional cases, to assert positively that he wrote any of those ascribed to him”.

In addition to the Persian quatrains, there are twenty-five Arabic poems attributed to Khayyam which are attested by historians such as al-Isfahani, Shahrazuri (Nuzhat al-Arwah, ca. 1201–1211), Qifti (Tārikh al-hukamā, 1255), and Hamdallah Mustawfi (Tarikh-i guzida, 1339).

Boyle and Frye (1975) emphasize that there are a number of other Persian scholars who occasionally wrote quatrains, including Avicenna, Ghazzali, and Tusi. He concludes that it is also possible that for Khayyam poetry was an amusement of his leisure hours: “these brief poems seem often to have been the work of scholars and scientists who composed them, perhaps, in moments of relaxation to edify or amuse the inner circle of their disciples”.

The poetry attributed to Omar Khayyam has contributed greatly to his popular fame in the modern period as a direct result of the extreme popularity of the translation of such verses into English by Edward FitzGerald (1859). FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam contains loose translations of quatrains from the Bodleian manuscript. It enjoyed such success in the fin de siècle period that a bibliography compiled in 1929 listed more than 300 separate editions, and many more have been published since.

Khayyam considered himself intellectually to be a student of Avicenna. According to Al-Bayhaqi, he was reading the metaphysics in Avicenna’s the Book of Healing before he died. There are six philosophical papers believed to have been written by Khayyam. One of them, On existence (Fi’l-wujūd), was written originally in Persian and deals with the subject of existence and its relationship to universals. Another paper, titled The necessity of contradiction in the world, determinism and subsistence (Darurat al-tadād fi’l-‘ālam wa’l-jabr wa’l-baqā’), is written in Arabic and deals with free will and determinism. The titles of his other works are On being and necessity (Risālah fī’l-kawn wa’l-taklīf), The Treatise on Transcendence in Existence (Al-Risālah al-ulā fi’l-wujūd), On the knowledge of the universal principles of existence (Risālah dar ‘ilm kulliyāt-i wujūd), and Abridgement concerning natural phenomena (Mukhtasar fi’l-Tabi‘iyyāt).

A literal reading of Khayyam’s quatrains leads to the interpretation of his philosophic attitude toward life as a combination of pessimism, nihilism, Epicureanism, fatalism, and agnosticism. This view is taken by Iranologists such as Arthur Christensen, H. Schaeder, Richard N. Frye, E. D. Ross, E. H. Whinfield and George Sarton. Conversely, the Khayyamic quatrains have also been described as mystical Sufi poetry.  In addition to his Persian quatrains, J. C. E. Bowen (1973) mentions that Khayyam’s Arabic poems also “express a pessimistic viewpoint which is entirely consonant with the outlook of the deeply thoughtful rationalist philosopher that Khayyam is known historically to have been.”[Edward FitzGerald emphasized the religious skepticism he found in Khayyam. In his preface to the Rubáiyát he claimed that he “was hated and dreaded by the Sufis” and denied any pretence at divine allegory: “his Wine is the veritable Juice of the Grape: his Tavern, where it was to be had: his Saki, the Flesh and Blood that poured it out for him.” Sadegh Hedayat is one of the most notable proponents of Khayyam’s philosophy as agnostic skepticism, and according to Jan Rypka (1934), he even considered Khayyam an atheist. Hedayat (1923) states that “while Khayyam believes in the transmutation and transformation of the human body, he does not believe in a separate soul; if we are lucky, our bodily particles would be used in the making of a jug of wine.” In a later study (1934–35) he further contends that Khayyam’s use of Sufic terminology such as “wine” is literal and that he turned to the pleasures of the moment as an antidote to his existential sorrow: “Khayyam took refuge in wine to ward off bitterness and to blunt the cutting edge of his thoughts.” In this tradition, Omar Khayyam’s poetry has been cited in the context of New Atheism, e.g. in The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens.

Al-Qifti (ca. 1172–1248) appears to confirm this view of Omar’s philosophy. In his work The History of Learned Men he reports that Omar’s poems were only outwardly in the Sufi style but were written with an anti-religious agenda. He also mentions that he was at one point indicted for impiety but went on a pilgrimage to prove he was pious. The report has it that upon returning to his native city he concealed his deepest convictions and practised a strictly religious life, going morning and evening to the place of worship.

In the context of a piece entitled On the Knowledge of the Principles of Existence, Khayyam endorses the Sufi path. Csillik (1960) suggests the possibility that Omar Khayyam could see in Sufism an ally against orthodox religiosity. Other commentators do not accept that Omar’s poetry has an anti-religious agenda and interpret his references to wine and drunkenness in the conventional metaphorical sense common in Sufism. The French translator J. B. Nicolas held that Omar’s constant exhortations to drink wine should not be taken literally but should be regarded rather in the light of Sufi thought where rapturous intoxication by “wine” is to be understood as a metaphor for the enlightened state or divine rapture of baqaa. The view of Omar Khayyam as a Sufi was defended by Bjerregaard (1915), Idries Shah (1999), and Dougan (1991) who attributes the reputation of hedonism to the failings of FitzGerald’s translation, arguing that Omar’s poetry is to be understood as “deeply esoteric”. On the other hand, Iranian experts such as Mohammad Ali Foroughi and Mojtaba Minovi rejected the hypothesis that Omar Khayyam was a Sufi. Foroughi stated that Khayyam’s ideas may have been consistent with that of Sufis at times but there is no evidence that he was formally a Sufi. Aminrazavi (2007) states that “Sufi interpretation of Khayyam is possible only by reading into his Rubāʿīyyāt extensively and by stretching the content to fit the classical Sufi doctrine.” Furthermore, Frye (1975) emphasizes that Khayyam was intensely disliked by a number of celebrated Sufi mystics who belonged to the same century. This includes Shams Tabrizi (spiritual guide of Rumi), Najm al-Din Daya who described Omar Khayyam as “an unhappy philosopher, atheist, and materialist”, and Attar who regarded him not as a fellow-mystic but a free-thinking scientist who awaited punishments hereafter.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr argues that it is “reductive” to use a literal interpretation of his verses (many of which are of uncertain authenticity to begin with) to establish Omar Khayyam’s philosophy. Instead, he adduces Khayyam’s interpretive translation of Avicenna’s treatise Discourse on Unity (Al-Khutbat al-Tawhīd), where he expresses orthodox views on Divine Unity in agreement with the author. The prose works believed to be Omar’s are written in the Peripatetic style and are explicitly theistic, dealing with subjects such as the existence of God and theodicy. As noted by Bowen these works indicate his involvement in the problems of metaphysics rather than in the subtleties of Sufism. As evidence of Khayyam’s faith and/or conformity to Islamic customs, Aminrazavi mentions that in his treatises he offers salutations and prayers, praising God and Muhammad. In most biographical extracts, he is referred to with religious honorifics such as ImāmThe Patron of Faith (Ghīyāth al-Dīn), and The Evidence of Truth (Hujjat al-Haqq). He also notes that biographers who praise his religiosity generally avoid making reference to his poetry, while the ones who mention his poetry often do not praise his religious character. For instance, Al-Bayhaqi’s account, which antedates by some years other biographical notices, speaks of Omar as a very pious man who professed orthodox views down to his last hour.

On the basis of all the existing textual and biographical evidence, the question remains somewhat open, and as a result Khayyam has received sharply conflicting appreciations and criticisms.

The various biographical extracts referring to Omar Khayyam describe him as unequalled in scientific knowledge and achievement during his time. Many called him by the epithet King of the Wise (Arabic: ملك الحکماء‎). Shahrazuri (d. 1300) esteems him highly as a mathematician and claims that he may be regarded as “the successor of Avicenna in the various branches of philosophic learning”. Al-Qifti (d. 1248), even though disagreeing with his views, concedes he was “unrivalled in his knowledge of natural philosophy and astronomy”. Despite being hailed as a poet by a number of biographers, according to Richard N. Frye “it is still possible to argue that Khayyam’s status as a poet of the first rank is a comparatively late development.”

Thomas Hyde was the first European to call attention to Omar and to translate one of his quatrains into Latin (Historia religionis veterum Persarum eorumque magorum, 1700). Western interest in Persia grew with the Orientalism movement in the 19th century. Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774–1856) translated some of Khayyam’s poems into German in 1818, and Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) into English in 1846, but Khayyam remained relatively unknown in the West until after the publication of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in 1859. FitzGerald’s work at first was unsuccessful but was popularised by Whitley Stokes from 1861 onward, and the work came to be greatly admired by the Pre-Raphaelites. In 1872 FitzGerald had a third edition printed which increased interest in the work in America. By the 1880s, the book was extremely well known throughout the English-speaking world, to the extent of the formation of numerous “Omar Khayyam Clubs” and a “fin de siècle cult of the Rubaiyat”. Khayyam’s poems have been translated into many languages; many of the more recent ones are more literal than that of FitzGerald.

FitzGerald’s translation was a factor in rekindling interest in Khayyam as a poet even in his native Iran. Sadegh Hedayat in his Songs of Khayyam (Taranehha-ye Khayyam, 1934) reintroduced Omar’s poetic legacy to modern Iran. Under the Pahlavi dynasty, a new monument of white marble, designed by the architect Houshang Seyhoun, was erected over his tomb. A statue by Abolhassan Sadighi was erected in Laleh Park, Tehran in the 1960s, and a bust by the same sculptor was placed near Khayyam’s mausoleum in Nishapur. In 2009, the state of Iran donated a pavilion to the United Nations Office in Vienna, inaugurated at Vienna International Center. In 2016, three statues of Khayyam were unveiled: one at the University of Oklahoma, one in Nishapur and one in Florence, Italy. Over 150 composers have used the Rubaiyat as their source of inspiration. The earliest such composer was Liza Lehmann.

FitzGerald rendered Omar’s name as “Tentmaker”, and the anglicized name of “Omar the Tentmaker” resonated in English-speaking popular culture for a while. Thus, Nathan Haskell Dole published a novel called Omar, the Tentmaker: A Romance of Old Persia in 1898. Omar the Tentmaker of Naishapur is a historical novel by John Smith Clarke, published in 1910. “Omar the Tentmaker” is also the title of a 1914 play by Richard Walton Tully in an oriental setting, adapted as a silent film in 1922. US General Omar Bradley was given the nickname “Omar the Tent-Maker” in World War II.

The French Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf based the first half of his historical fiction novel Samarkand on Khayyam’s life and the creation of his Rubaiyat. The sculptor Eduardo Chillida produced four massive iron pieces titled Mesa de Omar Khayyam (Omar Khayyam’s Table) in the 1980s.

The lunar crater Omar Khayyam was named in his honour in 1970, as was the minor planet 3095 Omarkhayyam discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova in 1980.

Google has released two Google Doodles commemorating him. The first was on his 964th birthday on 18 May 2012. The second was on his 971st birthday on 18 May 2019.

 Bernard Alexander Christian Quaritch (April 23, 1819 – December 17, 1899) was a German-born British bookseller and collector. The company established by Bernard Quaritch in 1847 lives on in London as Bernard Quaritch Ltd, dealing in rare books and manuscripts, as well as publishing books.

Quaritch was born in Worbis, Germany. After being apprenticed to a bookseller, he went to London in 1842, and was employed by Henry Bohn, the publisher.

In 1847 he started a bookseller’s business off Leicester Square, becoming naturalized as a British subject. In 1848 he started to issue a monthly Catalogue of Foreign and English Books. About 1858 he began to purchase rare books, one of the earliest of such purchases being a copy of the Mazarin Bible (usually known as the Gutenberg Bible), and within a period of forty years he possessed six separate copies of this rare and valuable edition.

In 1860 he moved to Piccadilly. In 1873 he published the Bibliotheca Xylographica, Typographica et Palaeographica, a remarkable catalogue of early productions of the printing press of all countries. He became a regular buyer at all the principal book-sales of Europe and America, and from time to time published a variety of other catalogues of old books. Amongst these may be mentioned the Supplemental Catalogue (1877), and in 1880 an immense catalogue of considerably over 2,000 pages. The last complete catalogue of his stock was published in 1887-88 under the title General Catalogue of Old Books and Manuscripts, in seven volumes, increased with subsequent supplements to twelve. All these catalogues are of considerable bibliographical value. By this time Quaritch had developed the largest trade in old books in the world.

Among the books that he published was Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of Omar Khayyám. He was also the agent for the publications of the British Museum and the Society of Antiquaries.

He died at Hampstead, London, leaving the business to his son Bernard Alfred Quaritch, who died in 1913. Both father and son are buried together on the western side of Highgate Cemetery. The business survives to this day.

quatrain is a type of stanza, or a complete poem, consisting of four lines. Existing in a variety of forms, the quatrain appears in poems from the poetic traditions of various ancient civilizations including Persia, Ancient India, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and China, and continues into the 21st century, where it is seen in works published in many languages.

This form of poetry has been continually popular in Iran since the medieval period, as Ruba’is form an important faction of the vast repertoire of Persian poetry, with famous poets such as Omar Khayyam and Mahsati Ganjavi of Seljuk Persia only writing poetry in this format.

Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus) used the quatrain form to deliver his famous prophecies in the 16th century.

There are fifteen possible rhyme schemes, but the most traditional and common are: ABAA, AAAA, ABAB, and ABBA.

Baqaa (Arabic: بقاء‎ baqāʾ ), with literal meaning of subsistence or permanency, is a term in Sufi philosophy which describes a particular state of life with God, through God, in God, and for God. It is the summit of the mystical manazil, that is, the destination or the abode. Baqaa comprises three degrees, each one referring to a particular aspect of the divine theophanies as principle of existence and its qualitative evolution, consisting of faith, knowledge, and grace. It is the stage where the seeker finally gets ready for the constant vision of God. Hence, it can be termed as Divine Eternity.


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