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.