Douglas Taylor (1938-2019)

The death of Douglas Taylor, 27th May 2019, means a great loss, not only for his wife and children and all other loved ones, but also for the international Omar Khayyám community.

Douglas was a keen collector of the rubáiyát, he took the verses of the old Persian poet to heart and found comfort and consolation in them. More than that, he spent much of his time and energy in studying, analysing and comparing the various translations and editions of the verses ascribed to Khayyám. Over the years he built a respectable library of all sorts of editions and related material.

All these years he seemed to work in silence, maybe voluntarily, but when he came into contact with other scholars, collectors and researchers, he enjoyed the exchange of information, the discussion and the suggestions for further research. Answering questions about whatever what, if related to Khayyám, seemed his second nature.

I came to know Douglas when I was preparing my bibliography of the Rubáiyat of Omar Khayyám, somewhere in 2008. It was Michelle Kaiserlian who alerted me a certain American gentleman, who also collected rubáiyát editions, and through her Douglas and I started an e-mail contact that lasted until a few weeks before his tragic death.

He alerted me to new or unknown editions, he answered my questions almost as if he was expecting them already and soon after our first contacts it became obvious to me that here was a man who was very deep into Omar, not as a maniac but as serious scholar. And though he was rather hesitative about publishing his work or sending it out in print, he was always more than willing to share the results of his work. Proof of that is his work on uncovering, studying and documenting all sorts of material relating to Khayyám.

In later years it turned out that he had already started comparing various editions and translations of the rubáiyát, which would help me enormously in preparing my Concordances of the Rubáiyát  website. Without his help and unselfish contributions, it would be in no way what it is now.

A few weeks before his passing away, he sent me a message that he had been in hospital, but that he now was back in the saddle again, looking forward to return to his Omarian studies. He had recently been studying the sources of Eric Hermelin’s Swedish translations, and was also preparing to investigate the sources of the Finnish translation by Toyvo Lyy.

He had also studied French translations, and even went as far as trying to read or understand articles and chapters in the Dutch language, probably with the assistance of Google Translate, but it showed how eager he was to learn and understand what Khayyam was all about and what Omar meant to other people. It also showed that he looked at Khayyám’s rubáiyát from a wider view than just the English speaking world.

He more than once  expressed his regrets that he wasn’t able to join meetings with fellow omarians abroad, and on one occasion, last year when there was a conference in the Netherlands, he wrote that he wished he could be there, “even if I didn’t understand one word”.

Now I am truly sad that he is no longer with us, but I am also happy that my wife and I were able to meet with Douglas and his wife Avlona, in 2014.

Thanks Douglas, for all your good works, rest in peace.

Omar’s birthday

Today, May 18, Omar Khayyám’s birthday is celebrated worldwide, maybe more so now that Google produced a ‘doodle’ representing the famous poet-scientist. This novelty was picked up by various news websites and newspapers, all acknowledging the old scientist’s reputation as a man of science, poetry and wisdom.

The Google search engine provides over 3 million results when you search for ‘Omar Khayyám’, which is rather depressing than motivating to do any further studies on Khayyám. So here is a selection of some recent books on Khayyám and his rubáiyát.

The Great ‘Umar Khayyám. A Global Reception of the Rubáiyát. A.A. Seyed-Gohrab. Leiden, Leiden University Press, 2012. 267 p. (Iranian Studies Series). ISBN: 9789087281571. [Online available at Open Access]
This volume collects eighteen essays on the history of the reception of ‘Umar Khayyám in various literary traditions, exploring how his philosophy of doubt, carpe diem, hedonism, and in vino veritas has inspired generations of poets, novelists, painters, musicians, calligraphers and film-makers.

FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Popularity and Neglect. Edited by Adrian Poole, Christine van Ruymbeke, William H. Martin and Sandra Mason. Anthem Press, 2011.
240 p. ISBN 9780857287816.
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 of Omar Khayyám. An updated bibliography. Jos Coumans. Amsterdam, Leiden University Press, 2010. 250 p. ISBN: 978-908-72-8096-3.
The bibliography lists a new selection and description of more than 1.000 editions of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

A book of verse. The biography of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Garry Garrard. Stroud, Sutton, 2007. 270 p. ISBN: 978-0-7509-4631-5 (Hardback).
The book tells the story of how The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám has provided delight and fascination for centuries.

The Art of Omar Khayyam. Illustrating FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat. William H. Martin & Sandra Mason. London-New York, Tauris, 2007. 184 p. Index. ISBN 978-84511-282-0.
The authors tell the story of the popularity of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, and survey how different illustrators have approached the task of interpreting the individual themes and topics of this poem.”

The wine of wisdom. The life, poetry and philosophy of Omar Khayyam. Mehdi Aminrazavi. Oxford, Oneworld Publishing, 2005. 396 p. ISBN: 1-85168-355-0.
Philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and mystic – his many different identities are examined here in detail, creating a coherent picture of this complex and often misunderstood figure.

There are numerous websites on Omar Khayyám as well, but there is one that stands out as a platform for discussion and exchanging information: Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat.

For a more detailed and up to date survey of books and articles see Omar Khayyám.

New editions – 2018

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. [Translated by Edward FitzGerald; decorated by william Morris]. London, Folio Society, 2018. 23 pp.

This edition of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is a facsimile of British Library Add MS 37832, created in 1872. It employs the translation of Edward Fitzgerald, first published in 1859. It was calligraphically written by William Morris and decorated by him with painted and illuminated borders. The figures in the borders were designed by Morris and Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and were painted by Charles Fairfax Murray.

Frank Unger illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906.Danton O’Day. Emeritus Books, 2018. 96 pp. ISBN 978-0-46-471984-7.

The watercolours in Unger’s original volume are bound in Moroccan leather that is gilt-embossed with an artistic rendering of the title, „Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám“, plus gilt corner designs on the front and back covers—a design incorporated into this new softcover offering. An Introduction to Unger’s book and A Look Back at Unger’s Contribution put his work into context dealing with issues such as how the artist put his personal spin on FitzGerald’s translations.

Omar Chayyam. Vierzeiler.Übersetzt von Adolf Friedrich Graf von Schack. [Edited by Karl-Maria Guth]. Berlin, Contumax – Hofenberg, 2018. 88 p. ISBN: 978-3-7437-2477-8.

Reprint based on the 1878 edition by Von Schack.

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.Rendered into English verse by Edward FitzGerald. With drawings by Edmund J. Sullivan. Norwalk, Easton Press, 2018. 320 p.

De luxe edition. Reprint of the first edition, 1913 publiahed by Methuen & Co., London.
Printed on archival quality paper. All edges gilt, and issued in a slip case, with title and ornaments in gold.

Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat. With paintings by Gizella Varga Sinai. Compiled by Németh Ágnes. Budapest, Kossuth Kiadó, 2018. [Unpag., ca. 117 pp.] ISBN: 978-963-09-9198-8.

Selection of 60 quatrains; English by Edward FitzGerald, Hungarian by Szabó Lörinc and Persian version by Sadeq Hedayat. Illustrated throughout in full page colour illustrations by Gizella Varga Sinai, with page ornaments by Afshin Najafzadeh. Introduction by Pouran Boroumand.

Jos Biegstraaten 1944-2018

Jos Biegstraaten, founder and long-time president of the Dutch Omar Khayyám Society, passed away Friday March 23.

Biegstraaten was the first in the Netherlands to bring Dutch enthusiasts and lovers of Omar together. They formed a small group of four, meeting twice a year in an informal setting, discussing and exchanging information about Khayyám and the Rubáiyát.

The club soon developed into a more serious society, including academics, publishers, translators and collectors, their efforts resulting in yearbooks, catalogues, contributions to journals and magazines, concerts and exhibitions and more. All of this thanks to Biegstraaten’s never ending enthusiasm and inspiration.

Jos was also a keen collector of rubaíyát editions. He loved to meet and talk to people who shared his interest, and he was proud to be a member of the prestigious London Omar Khayyam Club.

A particular field of interest became the ‘Omar Khayyám parody’, in which he was an expert. As if to express with Omar that life and life’s questions should be taken with a smile.

The Dutch Society will remember Jos Biegstraaten as a true friend of Omar, and a friend of all omarians.

 

New editions

 

Los Rubaiyat de Omar Jayam. Segundo libro de la colleción: La verdad sobre Los Rubaiyat. Introducción, investigación y versión al español de la primera versión al inglés de Edward FitzGerald. Mar Escribano. Editorial Anticuario, 2017. 92 p. ISBN: 9781547094875.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Rendered into English verse by Edward FitzGerald. With illustrations by Edmund Dulac. Mireola, Calla Editions, 2017. 160 p. ISBN: 9781606601129.

Republication of the edition published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1909.

Das Buch Der Vierzeiler. Khaled Tobar; Salah Dschahin; Ibn Arous; Omar Chajjam. Welten, 2017. 76 p. ISBN: 978-1978164451
Die Sinnsprüche Omars des Zeltmachers. Rubaijat-I-Omar- I-Khaijam. Aus dem Persischen übersetz und mit einem Nachwort versehen von Friedrich Rosen. Berlin, Insel Verlag, 2017. ISBN: 978-3-458-19433-0. (Insel-Bücherei Nr. 1433)

Hardback. Reprint of the 1929 edition by Insel Verlag. Included are five illustrations taken from the 1872 edition by William Morris. With Erläuterungen und Nachwort by the translator.

Rubaiyat of Khayyam: In Farsi with English Translation. Reza Nazari (Creator),‎ Somayeh Nazari (Creator). CreateSpace, 2017. 92 p. ISBN: 978-1547000517.

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in Persian and translations in English. This bilingual book can be useful for students and enjoyable for poetry lovers of any age. Not only will poems improve your Persian language, but they’ll help your understanding of Persian culture. Students will have ample opportunities to enrich their Persian learning experience.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayaam. By Simon R. Gladdish. Independently published, 2017. 41 p. ISBN: 978-1973217572

A new rhyming version of Robert Graves’ translation of The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayaam. Also available as Kindle Edition.

‘Omar Khayyám : the Persian Text with Paraphrase, and the First and Fourth Editions of Fitzgerald’s Translation. By E.H.Rodwell. London, Routledge, 2017. 110 p. ISBN: 9781138059382. (Routledge Library Editions; Persia; Volume 4)
Available as hardback and eBook.This book, first published in 1931, shows in a simple, sound and lucid manner how the genius of two poets (Omar Khayyam and FitzGerald) brought together by the genius of an Orientalist (Professor Cowell) culminated in a very strange, very beautiful and profound English poem. This book is concerned with the genuineness of the verses ascribed to Omar Khayyam, and consists of a comparison of the original Arabic, a paraphrase, and FitzGerald’s first and fourth editions.
Rubaiyat  e Omar Khayyam (A lucid presentation) by Y.R. Khadke. Published by S.V. Sarmukadam, Pune. No year given.
Available as Kindle eBook.Khadke’s attempt to elucidate FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát, by rephrasing the text and comtemporizing the idiom.

The Omar Khayyám Society: 25 years

The ‘Nederlands Omar Khayyám Genootschap’, or Dutch Omar Khayyám Society, waWine glasss founded in 1990 by four enthusiasts to share their love and interest in Omar. Initiated by Jos Biegstraaten, the Society was set up to gather, discuss, share and distribute knowledge and relevant information on all sorts of Khayyám related facts, findings and opinions.

Soon after that the first Yearbook was published, in 1992, and others followed, with an irregular interval of about four years. The latest issue is a special on the occasion of the 25th anniversary, containing short essays in which the members reflect on their membership and their relation to Omar Khayyám.

Over the years members have been in contact with Omarians from all over the world. A special occasion for meetings and discussions was the congress held in July 2009 in Leiden and Cambridge, and musical festivities in Amsterdam, in which the Society played an active role. Another event that attracted attention was an exhibition in Museum Meermanno, in 2009, highlighting the most important editions of FitzGerald’s translation representing developments in book publishing, typography and illustration.

The 25th anniversary will be celebrated Saturday, May 30, in Leiden, with a small congress for members and guests and a dinner. The program lists a reading on Omar Khayyám and Kavafis, by Michiel Leezenberg, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam.

 

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.

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.