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.

 

Two critical essays

VCUsiteA somewhat peculiar website is: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, Virginia), that offers the Rubáiyát texts, (1st, 2nd and 4th renderings), a glossary, a bibliographical list, a short biography of Khayyám, a comparison between a number of quatrains by FitzGerald, the Persian text and a literal translation, and the introductions to the three editions.

Also there are two critical essays “Creating Another’s Work: Edward FitzGerald’s The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. A bibliographical essay” by Katie Elliott, and “FitzGerald’s second. Additions and Textual Changes in the 1868 Edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” by Thomas Minnick. You’ll find these in the Criticism chapter.

The website is presented in the form of a book, with various illustrations from a number of artists. Unfortunately there is no year of publication, but it is from a later date than 2002.

“The many sided Omar”

That was the title of a reading by Johnson Brigham before the Prairie Club of Des Moines, VedderIowa in 1924. The author explaines that “Omar Khayyám’s nature was profoundly religious, and as a pagan preacher of “righteousness, moderation and judgement to come,” he has a message to millions of our western world who profess and call themselves Christian and yet do not take their profession seriously.”

The title quoted above, could also be applied for the phenomenom of the large number of so called translations and interpretations in which the author(s) is question argue(s) that we have no proper understanding of what Omar really had to say, or that FitzGerald’s translation desperately needs revision. The readers of Omar generally take all this for granted but in some circles these elucidative views had and still have prophets and apostles.

Here we can think of, for instance, Sir Jean (John) George Tollemache Sinclair (1825-1912), who commented extensively on FitzGerald’s translation and pointed to the many flaws and shortcomings therein, in his privately published book Larmes et sourire (1912). And to stay in our days there is the commentary by Abdullah Dougan (1918-1987), who explains in his posthumously published book Who is the potter (1991) that those who have criticized FitzGerald’s translation, all missed the point “that FitzGerald was only an instrument for what Allah wanted to happen”, and that the sultan’s turret, caught in a noose of light, basically “symbolizes the male sex organ”.

I wonder if Omarian studies can be complete without a proper exploration of this hitherto disregarded and undemarcated territory. In a number of articles Bob Forrest took a closer look at some of these works, notably by Paramhansa Yogananda (The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam explained), Louis C. Alexander (The testament of Omar Khayyam) and dr. Otoman Zar-Adust Ha’nish (Omar Khayyam in his Rubaiyat).
These articles, titled “Omariana Eccentrica” part 1-3, are published now on my website, and hopefully, there will be more to follow.