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FitzGeralds Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

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A major new analysis of FitzGerald’s ‘Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám’, exploring the reasons for its academic neglect despite its general fame.


This volume of essays is based on a conference held in July 2009 at Trinity College, Cambridge to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Edward FitzGerald (1809) and the 150th anniversary of the first publication of his ‘Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám’ (1859). The ‘Rubáiyát’, loosely based on the verses attributed to the eleventh-century Persian writer, Omar Khayyám, has become one of the most widely known poems in the world, republished virtually every year from 1879 (the year of FitzGerald’s fourth edition) to the present day, and translated into over eighty different languages. And yet, with a few exceptions, it has been systematically ignored or at best patronized by the academic establishment. This volume sets out to explore the reasons for both the popularity and the neglect. Broadly speaking, the essays are divided into two main blocks. The first six chapters focus primarily on the poem’s literary qualities (including consideration of its place in the tradition of verse translation into English, the idea of ‘nothingness’, and ‘syntax and sexuality’), the last five on aspects of its reception (including essays on the late-Victorian Omar Khayyám Club, on American parodies, and on the many illustrated editions). They are linked by three essays that address key ‘facilitators’ in the poem’s transmission (including the significant but neglected issue of cheap reprints).


Preface; Notes on Contributors; List of Illustrations; Introduction - Adrian Poole; 1. Edward FitzGerald, Omar Khayyám, and the Tradition of Verse Translation into English - Dick Davis 2. Much Ado about Nothing in the Rubáiyát - Daniel Karlin; 3. Common and Queer: Syntax and Sexuality in the Rubáiyát - Erik Gray; 4. A Victorian Poem: Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám - Clive Wilmer; 5. FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát and Agnosticism - Marta Simidchieva; 6. The Similar Lives and Different Destinies of Thomas Gray, Edward FitzGerald and A. E. Housman - Anthony Briggs; 7. The Second (1862 Pirate) Edition of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám - John Drew; 8. Edward Heron-Allen: A Polymath’s Approach to FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám - Garry Garrard; 9. ‘Under Omar’s subtle spell’: American Reprint Publishers and the Omar Craze - John Roger Paas; 10. The Imagined Elites of the Omar Khayyám Club - Michelle Kaiserlian; 11. Le Gallienne’s Paraphrase and the Limits of Translation - Adam Talib; 12. ‘Some for the Glories of the Sole’: The Rubáiyát and FitzGerald’s Sceptical American Parodists - Annmarie S. Drury; 13. The Vogue of English Rubáiyát and Dedicatory Poems in Honour of Khayyám and FitzGerald - Parvin Loloi; 14. The Illustration of FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát and its Contribution to Enduring Popularity - William H. Martin and Sandra Mason; Bibliography; Index

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Published 01 November 2013
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EAN13 9781783081011
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FitzGerald’sOmar KhayyámRubáiyát of
FitzGerald’sRubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
Popularity and Neglect
Edited by Adrian Poole Christine van Ruymbeke William H. Martin Sandra Mason
Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2013 by ANTHEM PRESS 75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave. #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
First published in hardback by Anthem Press in 2011
© 2013 Adrian Poole, Christine van Ruymbeke, William H. Martin and Sandra Mason editorial matter and selection; individual chapters © individual contributors. The moral right of the authors has been asserted.
Cover image: A Rubáiyát window display in William Doxey’s bookshop in San Francisco, 1899/1900. This illustration is reproduced in full on page 128 of this book.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library CataloguinginPublication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows: Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám : popularity and neglect / edited by Adrian Poole, Christine van Ruymbeke, William H. Martin, Sandra Mason. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN13: 9780857287816 (hardback : alk. paper) ISBN10: 0857287818 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Omar Khayyam. Ruba’iyat. 2. FitzGerald, Edward, 1809–1883–Criticism and interpretation. I. Poole, Adrian. II. Ruymbeke, C. van (Christine van) III. Martin, W. H. (William Henry), 1927– IV. Mason, Sandra. PK6525.F58 2011 891’.5511–dc22 2011014786
ISBN13: 978 1 78308 071 7 (Pbk) ISBN10: 1 78308 071 X (Pbk)
This title is also available as an ebook.
PrefaceNotes on ContributorsList of Illustrations
Introduction Chapter 1
Chapter 2 Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6
Chapter 7
C
O
N
TEN
TS
FitzGeraldsRubáiyát: Popularity and Neglect Adrian Poole
EdwardFitzGerald,OmarKhayyámandtheTradition of Verse Translation into English Dick Davis
MuchAdoaboutNothingintheRubáiyát Daniel Karlin
CommonandQueer:SyntaxandSexualityin theRubáiyát Erik Gray
AVictorianPoem:EdwardFitzGeraldsRubáiyát of Omar Khayyám Clive Wilmer
FitzGerald’sRubáiyátand Agnosticism Marta Simidchieva
The Similar Lives and Different Destinies of Thomas Gray, Edward FitzGerald and A. E. Housman Anthony Briggs
TheSecond(1862Pirate)Editionof of Omar Khayyám John Drew
theRubáiyát
vii xi xv
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15
27
45
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73
93
vi
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10 Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
BibliographyIndex
FITZGERALD’SRUBÁIYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM
EdwardHeronAllen:APolymathsApproachto FitzGerald’sOmar KhayyámRubáiyát of Garry Garrard
UnderOmarssubtlespell:AmericanReprintPublishers and the Omar Craze John Roger Paas
The Imagined Elites of Michelle Kaiserlian
the Omar Khayyám Club
LeGalliennesParaphraseand the Limits of Translation Adam Talib
‘Some for the Glories of the Sole’: TheRubáiyátand FitzGerald’s Sceptical American Parodists Annmarie S. Drury
The Vogue of the English Rubáiyát and Dedicatory Poems in Honour of Khayyám and FitzGerald Parvin Loloi
The Illustration of FitzGerald’sRubáiyátand its Contribution to Enduring Popularity William H. Martin and Sandra Mason
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PREFACE
The Rubáiyát, loosely based on the verses attributed to Omar Khayyám, is one of the most widely known poems in the world. It has been republished virtually every year from 1879 (the year of its fourth edition) to the present day, and translated into over 80 different languages. This volume of essays is based on a conference held in 2009 to honour the bicentenary of the birth th of Edward FitzGerald (1809) and the 150 anniversary of the publication of the first edition of theRubáiyát of Omar Khayyám(1859). It was organised by the University of Cambridge (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Faculty of English) in collaboration with the Persian Department at the University of Leiden (who organised a complementary conference in the Netherlands). The conference was convened by Dr Christine van Ruymbeke (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge), Professor Adrian Poole (Faculty of English, Cambridge) and Professor Charles Melville (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge), in memoriam Peter Avery, OBE. We wish to express our warm gratitude to the following for the generosity of their support for the 2009 conference, without which the current volume would not have been possible: the Soudavar Cambridge Fund for Persian Studies; the British Institute of Persian Studies; the Iran Heritage Foundation; the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge; the Ancient India and Iran Trust; Pembroke College, Cambridge; Trinity College, Cambridge; and Cambridgeshire County Council. The uniting theme of the current volume is indicated by its subtitle, ‘Popularity and Neglect’. In his introduction Adrian Poole reviews the history of the poem’s general popularity and particular neglect by the academic establishment, and suggests the importance to its popularity of the positive welcome it offers to an idea, a principle and ethos of ‘neglect’. The first group of essays, chapters 1–6, focus on FitzGerald’s poem itself, its position within several literary and intellectual traditions, its origins in the mid to late Victorian era when it was conceived, written and published, and its effect on its first readers. Dick Davis places FitzGerald’sRubáiyátwithin the tradition of English verse translation as it has existed since the time of Chaucer. He
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FITZGERALD’SRUBÁIYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM
suggests that FitzGerald was doing something relatively unprecedented when he wrote his versions of Khayyám, and that, together with the uncertain status of the original poems within the canon of Persian poetry, this was a prime factor in his work’s extraordinary success. Daniel Karlin probes the metaphysical gap between FitzGerald’s idea of ‘nothing’ and Tennyson’s, tracing the antecedents of the former in an English literary tradition that includes Shakespeare, Donne, and Rochester. Erik Gray contends that FitzGerald’sRubáiyát originally achieved its giddy popularity because it seemed so strange and daring, yet the poem’s very familiarity has tended to obscure what is most exceptional about it, its often puzzling language and its depiction of relations between men. Clive Wilmer and Marta Simidchieva both look at theRubáiyátVictorian religious and intellectualin the context of belief, suggesting that FitzGerald made it speak to his contemporaries through an increasingly confident scepticism and agnosticism towards which many were feeling their way. Anthony Briggs considers the arresting similarities and instructive differences between FitzGerald and two other retiring poets whose modest poetic output has won an exceptional popularity, Thomas Gray and A. E. Housman. Chapters 7 and 8 form a bridge between the two main groups of essays in that they trace the contribution made by some key figures to the extraordinary history of theRubáiyát’s journey from obscurity to global celebrity. John Drew focuses on Whitley Stokes, Edward Cowell and Thomas Evans Bell, and the intriguing story behind the Madras 1862 edition, Garry Garrard on the fascinating polymath Edward HeronAllen and his close engagement with FitzGerald’s work in the 1890s. The second main group of essays, chapters 9–14, is concerned with the afterlives of theRubáiyát, the new initiatives it has sponsored and the effect they have in turn had on the appreciation of FitzGerald’s poem. John Roger Paas demonstrates the enormous role that American reprint publishers played in fostering and supporting the public’s interest in theRubáiyát. Freed from any concern about copyright restrictions, the Americans reprinted at will and in the process developed marketing strategies that continue to this day. Michelle Kaiserlian follows the fortunes of the Omar Khayyám Clubs that started up in London in 1892 and later in Boston, arguing that these clubs became ritual spaces in which participants crafted and maintained a coveted identity through the vehicle of theRubáiyátwith its easy access to the fantasy world of the Orient. Adam Talib shows that Richard Le Gallienne’s 1897 edition of theOmar KhayyámRubáiyát of is an original work of literature that helps us understand the contemporary tensions surrounding academic and commercial translation and the place of theRubáiyátin English literary history. Annmarie S. Drury sees in American parodies of theRubáiyát a
PREFACE
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critique of the uncomplicated celebration of cultural fusion that many of FitzGerald’s champions promulgated. Her examples include the different uses of theRubáiyátmade by Mark Twain, Oliver Herford, and the ‘Hoosier poet’ James Whitcomb Riley. Parvin Loloi studies the EnglishRubáiyát, from the parodies which peaked in the first decades of the twentieth century to imitations and dedicatoryRubáiyátKhayyám and/or FitzGeraldin honour of in the second half of the century, in poems by John HeathStubbs, Dick Davis, Francis Warner and Mimi Khalvati. Finally, William H. Martin and Sandra Mason shed further light on how Edward FitzGerald’s short poem became one of the most widely illustrated books of all time. They consider the social and economic framework within which publication of FitzGerald’sRubáiyátreached its zenith, the critical role played by technical change in creating opportunities for better quality and more costeffective colour printing, and the contribution of illustration to the enduring popularity of the poem.
Adrian Poole Christine van Ruymbeke William H. Martin Sandra Mason