Omar Khayyám Clubs

” … even in this latter half of the 19th century, when the cult of particular poets has drawn bands of men and women together and given us Shakespeare Societies, Shelley Societies, Browning Societies and the like, there is no freemansonry so infallible, no sympathy so profound, as that which unites the lovers of the quatrains of Omar Khayyam”.

(Edward Heron-Allen. ‘Some sidelights upon Edward FitzGerald’s poem’, in The Rubá’iyát of Omar Khayyám, London, 1898, p. 289-320)

In the epilogue to his transation (1921), the German poet-translator Hans Bethge relates of “ungezählte ‘Omar Khayam societies”, but until now only two Omar Khayyám Clubs still exist: the Omar Khayyám Club of London and the Nederlands Omar Khayyám Genootschap. From 1900 till 1936 there has been an American Club, and a short life was lived by the Deutsche Omar Chajjam Gesellschaft, from 1934-1937.

These societies knew more or less formal articles, the members held regular meetings and a variety of publications was issued such as yearbooks, translations and miscellaneous material. It is likely that there have been many other clubs, i.e. book clubs, ephemeral and loosely organized clubs, and their existence or history is hard to trace. On the other hand, the interest in Omar Khayyám and his work was also subject of academic oriental societies or societés asiatiques, where the Khayyám phenomenon was studied in the wider perspective of Persian and oriental history, literature and culture.

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