Germany

In his recent volume on Omar Khayyám, Aminrazavi dedicates a chapter to the reception of Khayyám in the West. The “Deutsche Omar Chajjam-Gesellschaft” was part of this story, and though it existed only a few years, German scholars and poets payed a substantial contribution to ‘Omar’ science.

The first scholars who discovered Khayyám were Joseph von Hammer and Friedrich Rückert. Von Hammer published a number of 25 quatrains in German translation in a volume titled ‘Geschichte der schönen Redekünste Persiens’ (Vienna, 1818). Rückert translated two quatrains in an article in ‘Persische Philologie’ (1874). Interest in Khayyám became steadily growing after Von Schack (1878) and Bodenstedt (1881) published their translations. Bodenstedt’s ‘Die Lieder und Sprüche des Omar Chajjâm’ became very popular and was reprinted 3 or 4 times within a few years. In an article in ‘Die Nation’ (1898) critic Leon Kellner raised the question why Khayyám drew less attention in Germany than in the United States. The following years however, an increasing number of articles, studies and translations was published, notably by Maximillian Schenck and Friedrich Rosen.

Front cover of Rempis’ translation, 1935

Only in 1934 there was an attempt to organize these activities, when in Tübingen the “Deutsche Chajjám-Gesellschaft” was founded, under the direction of Christian Rempis. One of the first accomplishments, and probably the most important, was the publication of Rempis’ translation “Die Vierzeiler Omars in der Auswahl und Anordnung Edward FitzGeralds” (1935). The growing national-socialism in these years viewed Khayyám’s quatrains as a threat that undermined its authoritarian regime and under pressure of the changing political situation, the Gesellschaft was discontinued in 1937. According to Rempis, one important factor was that there were many jewish lovers of Khayyám, and because of the prosecutions against jews, many intellectuals were no longer in the position to participate in the Gesellschaft. Apart from Rempis’ Omar translation, the Gesellschaft published an edition of the “Hafische Vierzeilen” in a translation by Friedrich Rückert.

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