In this edition, an introduction written by Decker provides very good and much needed background for Khayyam's work. Most importantly, all four of the author's editions are included in their entirety, first individually and then, in an appendix, by quatrain, so one can compare the texts. A table providing the sequence of the quatrains is also provided, a pronunciation guide and a small glossary. An added bonus, to be found only in this edition, I believe, is the inclusion of FitzGerald's Latin translation of the poems.
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is beautiful and classic poetry encompassing simple quatrains where East seems to meet West in a mingling of Eastern mysticism and Western language and expression of the nineteenth century.
Anyone who is serious about these gorgeous poems will find this text most useful. Although this is not the most visually beautiful of the translations, it is certainly the most comprehensive and the one that will most enhance your knowledge. Definitely worthy of adding to your collection. In fact, a necessity.
Regarding the Muslim calendar, Fitzgerald wrote in an endnote for the forth tetrastich (included in all four original editions): "NEW YEAR--Beginning with the Vernal Equinox, it must be remembered; and (howsoever the old Solar Year is practically superseded by the clumsy Lunar Year that dates from the Mohammedan Hijra) still commemorated by a Festival that is said to have been appointed by the very Jamshyd whom Omar so often talks of, and whose yearly Calendar he helped to rectify." Again, these are FitzGerald's words, NOT Decker's, and we can only be thankful that there is finally a solid, scholastic edition of these works available--one that takes the trouble to include FitzGerald's original notes. In any case, these words are hardly "enraging"--they are about as unprepossessing as could be written by a Victorian pen; and, moreover, it would be well to keep in mind FitzGerald's known preference for "Persian" over "Arabic", for example, in transcription of words into Roman letters--a bias of the poet, not his editor.
Again, the reviewer complained of the reference to Mohammed as a "false prophet". This comes from the forth Appendix to our edition of FitzGerald, wherein Decker provides extensive glosses for the Persian terms that occur in the Rubaiyat--far more extensive that FitzGerald's rather laconic annotation. Most of these notes are in fact translations from a French reference book written by Barthelemy D'Herbelot and published in 1697--the reason for the selection of this odd (and certainly Eurocentric) book is its recognized influence on FitzGerald at the time he was doing his translation: he possessed a copy of D'Herbelot's dictionary, and he regarded it quite highly. We can presume, then, that much of what he knew of Persian culture came from this source. The particular offensive quotation comes from page 252 of the present edition: [regarding the founder of the garden Iram]--"Mohammed mentions this impious man with horror in his Koran, and yet the Muslims who wish to enjoy sensual pleasures in Paradise, as promised time after time by their false prophet, often use the word "Iram" to characterize it." But remember, this is merely a translation from a seventeenth century French reference. These are certainly not Decker's words, nor are they FitzGerald's. To call them such is almost willfully perverse--certainly an amateur misreading.
I have read the book entire, and at no point is the editor ever "rude" or unprofessional. Quite the contrary: this book is the most scholastic, most critically rigorous version of FitzGerald's Rubaiyat produced to date. It includes the full text (including introductions and endnotes) from the four versions of the Rubaiyat published in FitzGerald's lifetime, and several extremely useful textual apparatuses: a pronouncing dictionary for Persian words, a comparative table of the quatrain selection and sequencing in the different versions, a collection of FitzGerald's Latin versions of Omar, an elaborate glossary (mentioned above--mostly translations from a French reference FitzGerald was known to have consulted), and, of course, elaborate notes on textual sources and editorial emendations. All this is prefaced by an introduction of over thirty pages, giving the stories of Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald, and of the latter's interest in Persian literature in general, and the Rubaiyat in particular.
As a lover of the Rubaiyat in all its forms, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a critical text of FitzGerald's famous translation. It may not be the prettiest version available--the only illustration occurs on the title page--but, after all, the poetry is what we come for, and FitzGerald's rhymes have never seen such careful treatment as Decker gives them in this excellent book.