A Book of Verse: The Biography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Garry Garrard; The Art of Omar Khayyam: Illustrating FitzGerald’s Rubaiayat by William H Martin and Sandra Mason - review by Hazhir Teimourian

Hazhir Teimourian

Khayyamania

A Book of Verse: The Biography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

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Sutton Publishing 270pp £20 order from our bookshop

The Art of Omar Khayyam: Illustrating FitzGerald’s Rubaiayat

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I B Tauris 184pp £40 order from our bookshop
 

Nothing lasts for ever, except our saying so: ‘Out, out, brief candle!’ Judging by the remains of flowers in their graves, even Neanderthal men cried over their short ‘hour upon the stage’, and this has to explain why the combination of an eleventh-century Persian jotter of secret verse that refuted the certainties of Islam and a nineteenth-century English gentleman who rejected the conformities demanded by Victorian society has proved the most successful literary pairing in history. Weight by weight, apparently, Edward FitzGerald’s ‘rendering’ – as he put it – of the quatrains of Omar Khayyam into English has spawned more phrases in the language than the Bible and Shakespeare together.

I woke up to Khayyam around 1950, in my earliest years at school in Kurdish Western Iran, when I found his curious little impious book in my father’s otherwise sombre library. Evidently even the grumpy rock of my life found it impossible to resist the old rogue, and I have

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