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The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Omar Khayyam
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Aug 1997 Wordsworth Classics

In the renowned translation by Edward FitzGerald, this Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive introduction by Professor Cedric Watts

Here is Edward FitzGerald’s original translation of the Rubáiyát, the collection of poems attributed to the Persian astronomer and mathematician, Omar Khayyám. FitzGerald’s distinctive version (1859), with its oriental imagery and sensual warmth, made an exotic appeal to the Victorian imagination. Its scepticism fitted a time of increasing religious doubt; its romantic melancholy resonated with the writings of Matthew Arnold and Thomas Hardy; and its epicureanism heralded the Aesthetic Movement. It has inspired composers, rock groups, artists and film-makers. As rendered by FitzGerald, the Rubáiyát remains a seductively subversive poem.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 Aug 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853261874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853261879
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 12.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


'I found Robert Wilson's 'Omar Khayyam' very readable. It will stand well in print in Scotland' EDWIN MORGAN The Rubaiyat of Omar... takes on a contemporary gloss in a rumbustious reworking in Scots of the literal text of the Persian poet. THE HERALD --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Heath-Stubbs was born in London and educated at Queen's College, Oxford. He was known for writing verse influenced by the classics and was awarded an OBE in 1988.

Peter Avery OBE is an eminent British scholar of Persian studies and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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My grandfather, born in the second half of the nineteenth century in a fishing village in the northeast of Scotland, naturally enough followed a career at sea. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHICH BOOK OF VERSE? 8 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Intending purchasers of the Rubaiyat with this particular ISBN need to be wary. What I got here was exactly what I wanted, namely FitzGerald's first version, the version familiar to many of us from our schooldays as it is given in the additional poems at the end of Palgrave's Golden Treasury. FitzGerald revised the work no fewer than four times, and so far as I can see there is also a version in circulation with this same ISBN but giving one of the later texts and having a different editor as well as a different picture on the cover.

Presumably FitzGerald thought he was making improvements as he went along. For me, although some of the revised stanzas are probably better than his first attempts, and those that are completely new are very welcome, each successive version is a little weaker than the one before. He abandons, for instance, the magnificent and unique metaphor in the first quatrain, and the very effective quatrains where all four lines are made to rhyme disappear as well. The general feel of it all stays the same of course, but I sense a loss of vividness in the afterthoughts by and large.

The edition as I have it is edited by Alexander Hutchison who contributes a helpful short introduction. There is in addition a set of notes at the back, and these are thoughtful and informative also. I would imagine that for Eng Lit students this little book will be a godsend at such modest cost. Enthusiasts for the poem in general will find the printing beautifully clear, and I did not spot any misprints or inaccuracies. What I wanted is what I have been given here, but that was more by luck than by judgment on my part.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time in Persia..... 14 July 1999
By A Customer
"Awake! For morning in the bowl of night, has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight". Fitzgerald's (1851) masterful translation of Khayyam's 11th century poem evokes a romantic Persian landscape of minarets and rose-gardens by babbling streams. A Sufi, or religious mystic, Khayyam nonetheless extolled the virtues of wine, women and song in his humanistic view of the world. If our life on earth is so short, why not live every day as if it were our last?, he seems to say. His emphasis on the pleasures of drinking has curried much opposition from proponents of modern-day Islam, who would like to claim Khayyam as their own, but perhaps he is just using drunkenness as a metaphor for the ecstasy of love and spiritual fulfilment. For many readers, myself included, for whom the book has become a kind of textbook for life, it comes as a great relief to know that the path to happiness and spiritual enlightenment may involve no more than drinking wine in the company of friends. At this price the book is an excellent chance to fill in the gaps between the few quotations we all know and love. Give a copy to a friend as well and it will never be far from their bedside.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. For new readers. 29 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a child I used to peruse with considerable care a small book containing this text and more importantly, to a small boy, some beautiful coloured illustrations. i.e. 'A jug of wine and thou, beside the stream & etc' I so strongly recommend this to any person with the slightest appreciation of art, poetry or philosophy. You will not be disappointed. You will be seduced into a new appreciation of life through the eyes of a very deep thinker and a compassionate soul. Ever afterwards you will recognise resonances in life that were missing before you read the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
My father, when I had reached an age when I had wrestled with the these verses and understood some of them, gave me the task of making a new dust cover for his hard copy of this book. Using brown paper and a pot of glue folding and cutting etc. I carefully completed the job. In my best italics I put the book title on the cover and underneath the (so I thought at the time) the authors name. 'Tamam Shud' Which the erudite will instantly see as 'The End' The joke is still shared by my father and I some 60 years later. I have three copies and many translations. Fitzgerald's is the best. The latest on my Kindle. Enjoy.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it loses something in translation 30 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When a publisher prints on the cover " .. it is a worthy venture" one does wonder what less favourable comments might have been rejected. It is a pity that Luath Press bound in a translated Rubaiyat in English at the back of the book, since Rab Wilson's version, while containing a life and vigour of its own, does not approach the joyousness of the Fitzgerald-translated original. It looks beautiful, there are some highly atmospheric illustrations, and a (probably much-needed!) glossary. There is no doubt, however, that as the cover says "...the souks, bazaars and taverns of medieval persia..." have been left behind; perhaps rather too far behind? It is, all in all, a worthy venture, rather than a second-generation masterpiece, which is what one might have hoped for!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'The moving finger writes; and, having writ,/Moves on.'
'Tomorrow! Why tomorrow I may be/ Myself with Yesterday's seven thousand years.' There are countless phrases that have entered into the English language from Edward FitzGerald's translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Its wonderfully expressed poetic fatalism and its message of 'Enjoy the day' are a delight to read. This text contains both the first edition of the poem running to 75 stanzas and the fifth edition which had 101 stanzas; so a good opportunity to see how Fitzgerald tinkered with the translation over a period of years. There is also a short life of Omar Khayyam written by Fitzgerald by way of introduction.
A staple text to have on your Kindle.
A second free copy of the Rubaiyat has also been recently added to the Kindle store. That also contains another Persian poem, Salaman and Absal, translated by Fitzgerald, a short life of Fitzgerald and an essay on Persian poetry by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The two copies are complementary and as they are free it's well worth collecting them both.
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