Sufi masters of love

Sufi mastersThe Rosicrucian Foundation in The Netherlands will organize a symposium on the poetry and lyrics of Hafiz, Rumi and Khayyám. The meeting is part of a series to investigate the great oriental movements of wisdom and philosophy.

The delicate Persian lyrics still exert a specific attraction to us. Persian poetry, music and wisdom spread over the continents from China to the West when our ancestors still went at each other with prongs and forks.

Some of the subjects that will be discussed are stories and music about  Layla and Majnun, about Rumi, Shamsuddin of Tabriz, Mirabai, but also Krishna and Jesus. There will also be a small exhibition on Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, showing a number of mystical and sufi interpretations of his verses.

For more information (in Dutch) see: Soefi-meesters van de Liefde: Rumi en Hafez. Perzische bevrijdingslyriek voor het hart

The event will take place on June 13, 2016 in Bilthoven, The Netherlands.

Gilbert James: illustrator of The Rubáiyát

James portraitOne of the early illustrators of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám was Gilbert James (1865-1941).  His work can be found in numerous editions and reprints of The Rubáiyat, and a number of his illustrations have been issued as post cards as well. Although this indicates that his work was rather popular in his days, very little is known about the artist himself.

In a recently published document however, Bob Forrest reports the findings of his research into the artist and his work, particularly his Rubáiyát illustrations. They appeared for the first time in a magazine ‘The Sketch’ (1896) and in book form in 1898, published by Smithers (1898) as Fourteen Drawings illustrating Edward FitzGerald’s Translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

This highly important document is available on Bob Forrest’s website: http://bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Gilbert_James/Gilbert_James.htm

 

The Rubáiyát from the Bodleian ms.

The new website called Concordances of the Rubáiyát, is a project I have been working on for a couple of years. The website presents the quatrains from the Bodleian manuscript of the Rubáiyát that FitzGerald used for his famous translation. Together with the Persian text, taken from Heron-Allen’s edition of 1898, a number of corresponding translations is listed underneath each quatrain.

You will also find a number of (sortable) tables of corresponding quatrains, based on the tables in studies and publications by Anet (1957), Arberry (1949 and 1952),  Heron-Allen (1898), Thompson (1906) and Tirtha (1941). More tables will follow.
Finally there is a list of translations from a number of authors whose quatrains have a correspondence to the Bodleian manuscript.

Work on the project is still in progress, and I would highly appreciate to receive comments, corrections and suggestions.

Mosher Rubáiyáts

Philip Bishop, bibliographer and rare book specialist, published a number of shorter essays on special bindings of the Rubáiyát that were Asper bindingpublished by Thomas B. Mosher. One of the bindings is by Hans Asper, the other by George Bayntun. The essays are available on Bishop’s Mosher Press website: http://thomasbirdmosher.net/index1.html.

The direct links to the essays are
http://thomasbirdmosher.net/files/hans-asper-binding.pdf, for the Asper binding, and
http://thomasbirdmosher.net/files/acquisitions-since-endpapers.pdf for the Bayntun binding essay.

Phil Bishop also published a large bibliographic volume on the Mosher Press editions, which includes of course the many rubáiyáts of Omar Khayyám.

 

 

The United Nations 2015 Year of the Light

St Michael and All Angels' Church

St Michael and All Angels’ Church

Part of the global celebration of the United Nations 2015 Year of the Light is a reading of the ‘Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám’ in the translation of Edward FitzGerald, by Charles Mugleston. The event will take place Sunday  3rd May at 3.00pm in St Michael and All Angels Church, Boulge, Suffolk.

Grave of Edward FitzGerald

Grave of Edward FitzGerald

Those who plan to attend the reading may also pay a visit to the churchyard where FitzGerald’s grave can be found.

 

Recent papers and articles

KhayyamwisdomA couple of recent articles show that there is still a living interest in Khayyám’s rubáiyát, and that there is wide range of subjects and aspects left to be studied.

Rebecca Mueller, graduate student at Indiana University, published a paper “Balkan Rubaiyat”, in which she presents two case studies of post-Ottoman translation. The studies concern the translations by Safvet-Beg Bašağić (1870-1934), Omer Chajjam. Rubaije published in 1920, and by Theofan Stylian Noli (1882-1965), a version in Albanian, in 1926. Mueller’s aim is to discuss how these translations can be seen in the context of Western as well as Eastern orientation of Bosnian or Albanian indentity-formation in that period.
Balkan Rubaiyat. The post-Ottoman polysystem between East and West. Rebecca Mueller.
Online available at: http://www.academia.edu/7868153/Balkan_Rubaiyat_The_Post-Ottoman_Polysystem_Between_East_and_West.

D.P. May, from the Mathematics Department, Black Hills State University, Spearfish, takes a mathematical view on the Rubáiyát: how can graph theory be used to explore the connections between the various quatrains in FitzGerald’s translations.
Complete graphs in the Rubáiyát. D.P. May. Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, 8 (2014), nrs. 1-2, 59-67. DOI: 10.1080/17513472.2014.939526.

Rebecca Weston raised the question whether readers of Chinese and Persian poetry, notably by Li Bo, Khayyám or Hafez, should read between the lines when themes like ‘drunkenness’ or ‘drinking of wine’ occur. Drunkenness is not only a state of physical intoxication, but also refers to a state of spiritual enlightenment, and apart from the view that the reader takes in this discussion, Weston concludes that this unquestionably is an issue for “lengthy debate”.
Implications of Mystic Intoxication in Chinese and Iranian poetry. Rebecca Weston. The Undergraduate Historical Journal, 1 (2014), nr. 1.
Online available at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/56m0j6zp

The recent translation into Dutch by Paul Claes, Omar Chajjaam. Kwatrijnen (2010) is discussed by Benoît Crucifix, student at Université catholique de Louvain. In this article, the author looks at quatrain nr. XI, to demonstrate the principles and theoretical ideas in Claes’ translation.
Woestijn waar ik dit paradijs aan dank. Claes vertaalt FitzGerald vertaalt Chajjaam. Benoît Crucifix. Filter, 21 (2014), nr. 2.
Abstract

And finally, Reza Taher-Kermani presents new insights into FitzGerald’s translation practice, to substantiate the claim that FitzGerald succeeded in transmitting an authentic Persian spirit in his Rubáiyát.
FitzGerald’s Anglo-Persian Rubáiyát. Reza Taher-Kermani. Translation and Literature, 23 (2014), 321-334. DOI:10.3366/tal.2014.0162

Khayyaamism

Kaviani Cover 2014In a recent volume Khodadad Kaviani, associate professor at Central Wahington University, defines Khayyaamism as “a particular worldview that (l) questions the legitimacy of religious practices and beliefs that are contrary to reason; (2) views death as part of life; (3) promotes the enjoyment of life here and now; (4) values camaraderie and friendship; and (5) expresses ideas in short poems.” As a young man, Kaviani left his country in 1979, and had to find his way in the USA. Reading Iranian poetry helped him to stay in touch with his cultural roots, and in Khayyaamism, he would find advice on “how to be a friend, what to do with money, why religion is not all that’s cracked up to be, and much more.”

Khayyám’s short poems may serve as a vehicle for readers to take a more critical view of issues and values that each new generation has to discover and to discuss. In order to do so, Kaviani provides a method to study the quatrains. Each verse is given in Persian, followed by a translation into English. Next, under the headings “Conversation starter” and “Dig deeper” a varying number of questions is posed for the reader to answer.

In this respect, it is irrelevant to dwell on the question whether Khayyám did really write these verses, “because his poetry represents a way of thinking about life (…), a worldview that opposes religious control over people’s lives and promotes living a full life here and now, in a simple  way that brings joy to the person and others.”

Although the methodical approach may seem a bit schoolmasterish (there is a chapter “Note to teachers” with rather strict instructions), it is a brave attempt to make our troubled world a better place to be.

Rethinking khayyaamism. His controversial poems and vision. Khodadad Kaviani. Lanham etc., Hamilton Books, 2014. xii, 131 p. ISBN: 9780761864066.

The Rubáiyát in audio

Nowadays a lot of audio versions of the Rubáiyát are available. Early recordings were done on lp in 1955 by Jim Ameche, Ralph Bellamy and Raymond Massey. These are usually FitzGerald’s versions, and some are with background music.

Recent recordings (a first selection, more will follow):

WisdomCoverThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. By E.F. Thompson. Narrated by Mark Turetsky.
Audible Inc., 2013.
Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes.
From Audible, an Amazon company.

 

CalderisicoverThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Translated by Edward FitzGerald. Narrated by David Calderisi.
Published by David Calderisi, 2012.
Time: about 60 minutes.

 

GreenhalghCoverThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Translated by Edward FitzGerald. Introduced and read by Peter Greenhalgh.
English Speech and Pronunciation, 2012.
Time: 30 minutes.
From: AudioAndBooks.com.

 

BethuneCoverRubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. By Edward FitzGerald. Narrated by Robert Bethune.
Freshwater Seas, 2010.
Time: 34 minutes.
From Audible, an Amazon company.

 

DrakeCoverAlfred Drake reads The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. By Edward FitzGerald.
Saland Publishing, 2009.
Time: 22 minutes.
From Audible, an Amazon company.

 

YoganandaCoverThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam explained. By Paramhansa Yogananda. Narrated by Donald J. Waters.
Cristal Clarity Publishers, 2006.
Time: 6 hours, 27 minutes.
From Audible, an Amazon company.

 

BirdofTimeCoverThe Bird of Time. Selections from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam explained. Voice and instrumentation by Swami Kriyannda.
Cristal Clarity Publishers, 2006.
Time: 1 hour, 1 minute.
From Audible, an Amazon company.

Another important resource is Internet Archive, which has a collection of recordings by LibriVox, read by volunteers. Here you will also find other translations than those by FitzGerald. And of course there is YouTube with lots of footage and recordings. A selection will follow soon.