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The Current Issue

August 2016, Issue 445 Eric Ormsby on the riches of the Rubaiyat * Piers Brendon on 1956 * Lucy Lethbridge on a surgeon's secret identity * Jan Morris on James Joyce & Italo Svevo in Trieste * John Gray on Marx in his own time * Jonathan Sumption on Henry V's thought * David Gilmour on the Raj * Matthew Sturgis on Oscar Wilde's family * Kevin Jackson on melancholy * Lucian Robinson on James Kelman * Jonathan Barnes on Sarah Perry * Nadira Naipaul on justice in Pakistan * Miranda Seymour on trees galore * and much, much more...  and much, much more…

Eric Ormsby

Nearer the Heart’s Desire: Poets of the Rubaiyat – A Dual Biography of Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald

By Robert D Richardson

In 1902, when he was fourteen, T S Eliot came upon a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in Edward FitzGerald’s translation, first published anonymously in 1859. As Eliot later wrote, he experienced an ‘almost overwhelming introduction to a new world of feeling … It was like a sudden conversion – the world appeared anew, painted with bright delicious and painful colors.’ Many other readers, especially in adolescence, have shared Eliot’s sense of sudden discovery. I recall picking up one of several copies of the Rubaiyat in my grandmother’s house – a floppy little volume primly bound in brown velvet – and being captivated by the quatrains at about the same age... read more

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