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.

 

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.

A new French translation

Mercier Quatrains CoverFrench novelist and essayist Renaud Mercier published a versified adaptation of the quatrains from the Bodleian manuscipt, based on the edition by Edward Heron-Allen of 1898.  In a short introduction the translator explains why the rhyme scheme has been altered to AABB, which means that there is no ‘free’ third line, as not to discomfort French ears.

The booklet is printed on demand, and is also available as a Kindle e-book, from Amazon.

Les quatrains d’Omar Khayyam (adaptation versifiée). Renaud Mercier. 2014.
72 p. ISBN: 9781494315399

What Every Young Man and Woman Should Know …

PriftiCover2014That Omar Khayyám definitely has gone digital may be a surprise to no one. The digital versions of editions and critial works that are out of copyrights abound since years. More recently we see a steady flow of new rubáiyáts in various formats of ebooks: DjVu, ePub, eReader, iBook, pdf and many others.

A recent example bears the somewhat intruiging title What Every Young Man and Woman Should Know about the Rubaiyat Omar Khayyam and Edward Fitzgerald. The work was edited by Paulin Prifti, published by Paul Smith Publishing London (2014) and issued as a Kindle edition, available from Amazon. There are twelve rather elegant and decent illustrations in colour by Silvia Gallani.

PriftiIllus2014

Now, what does the editor think that young people should know about the rubáiyát? First of all “How the Rubaiyat was found”, secondly “What is the Rubaiyat”, next “Who was Omar Khayyám” and finally “Who was Edward FitzGerald”. These are the titles of four short chapters that provide brief introductions to these themes. In the first part Whitley Stokes’ role is simply left out. Here it was Rossetti who went rummaging through Quaritch’s boxes to find the little pamphlet. The other intros suffice for a curious but uninformed audience, though Khayyám’s authorship, which is a rather essential part of the rubáiyát history, even for the lay, is hardly questioned. In the third chapter we read in the first lines: “Omar Khayyám was born between 1046 and 1048 in Nishapur city…”, and in the last lines it turns out that “Omar Khayyám died in 1213 …”.

The text is from FitzGerald’s first version, however without the introduction and notes, Would that be too much for the younger generations?

ISBN 978-0-9927170-1-8

The Essential Edward FitzGerald

This is a newly published e-book with the main versions of FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, (the first, second and fifth), and his translation of Jámí’s Salámán and Absál. The work includes all the original notes and prefaces, together with an Appendix, Glossary and Endnotes.

This e-book, available in ePub-format, is published in the Carrigboy Classics Series, and was edited by Simon Prichard.  Carrigboy Cassics are a specially chosen series drawn from the very best of the World’s classical literature.

The Essential Edward FitzGerald. Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Salámán and Absál.   Translated by Edward FitzGerald. Compiled and Edited by Simon Prichard. Carrigboy Classics, 2014. ISBN 978-1-910388-00-6.
Available at CreateSpace, $12,67.

The illustrated Omar Khayyam

A new version of Khayyám’s quatrains was recently published by Benny Thomas, architect by profession and poet by temperament, in his own words. The work comprises 255 verses, some in rhymes, others only partially rhyming while the rest are blank verses.

Thomas’ argument for yet another version or interpretation is that the voice of Omar Khayyam still speaks to us, “because we see in the quatrains our own unexpressed thoughts elegantly phrased”. In his foreword, Aminrazavi describes the quatrains by Benny Thomas as the “silence that makes music of the soul coherent to each”.

Khayyám’s quatrains must not be viewed “as a case for his adherence to Sufi tradition”, nor does the translator’s (that is FitzGerald), skepticism in the quatrains follow from not being true to the original, as Thomas explains. As a mystic he reads something else in them, or to paraphrase his own words: both Khayyám and FitzGerald are representative geniuses of our cultural heritage, who gave expression to the voice of their souls, the voice of their Inner Worlds.

The book was issued (as prints on demand) in three states: an illustrated paperback edition, a cheaper version without illustrations and an illustrated e-book. The illustrations were done by the translator. Available at Lulu.com.

Unfortunately, the work is not without errors. In the foreword (p. 7/9) we read: “Eight-hundred years after his death, the spirit and message of Omar Khayyám has once again celebrated in the exquisite quatrains …”. Many sentences are incomplete and for me, not being a mystic, some of the verses are almost impenetrable, for instance quatrain #158:

 The color that we swore upon with life
Is false hue drawn from lie engenders strife:
In death and all enfolding gloom our souls
Must reorient with what is true or life.

More about Benny Tomas’ translation can be found on his weblog: “The Rubaiyat“, which also shows a number of the artist’s illustrations.

 

 

 

Omar in Spanish-America

PeripheralIn “Otras inquisiciones, 1937-1952” (1952) the famous Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges published a short essay “El enigma de Edward FitzGerald”, in which he suggests that Omar might be reincarnated in Edward FitzGerald. In his earlier work “Inquisiciones” (1925) Borges also wrote a short essay called “Omar Jaiyám y FitzGerald” in which he refered to a translation to Spanish of a number of quatrains of Omar Khayyám by his father, Jorge Guillermo Borges (1874-1934). This reference to his father was left out in the later Inquisiciones of 1952.

Borges Jr.’s later essay may be familiar to the Omar devotees, but that his father was one of the first to translate Khayyám’s quatrains to Spanish is probably new to many of us. We learn more about early Spanish translations in a chapter “Omar Khayyam’s Epicureanism” by Axel Gasquet (Université de Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand), with the subtitle “The Spanish translations of Rubaiyats”. The author gives a brief summary of a number of translations published in Spanish-American countries. Here, and in the Phillipines twelve translations of the Rubáiyát were issued in twenty-six years. The first translation was by Juan Dublan (Mexico, 1904), followed by Gregorio Martinez Sierra (Madrid, 1907), and finally by Francisco Propata (Paris, 1930).

Four works are discussed more in detail: the versions by Dublan, Muzzio Sáenz-Peña, González and Bernabé. Gasquet describes the socio-cultural conditions of their time, and the sources of their work. He also shows how the hedonist-mystic debate played a role in these works.

Though the analysis is limited to only four translations, the chapter is rather interesting as it informs us about a number of translations that are not all in Potter, and that are probably unknown to many of our readers. One reason might be that these unknown translations were published in magazines or journals, or were part of anthologies.

The twelve translations that are refered to are:

  • DUBLAN, Juan. “Ruba’iyyat” de Omar Khayyam. Mexico, Caranza, 1904. (online at archive.org) (Potter 509)
  • SIERRA, Gregorio Martinez. Los Rubayata de Omar Khayyam de Naishapur. In: ‘Renacimiento’, March 1907, pp. 89-104 (Potter 510)
  • MUZZIO SÁENZ-PEÑA, Carlos. Rubaiyat de Omar-al-Khayyam. La Plata, Sesé, 1914.
  • CASTELLOT, José. Rubaiyat de Omar Khayyam. Prologo por Jose Juan Tablada. New York, [s.n.], 1918. (Potter 584)
  • BORGES, Jorge Guillermo. (Sixty-two quatrains). In: ‘Proa’, 1924. (A smaller number of quatrains was published in ‘Gran Guignol’, 1920.
  • EULATE SANJURJO, Carmela. Rubayyat. In: ‘Antología de poetas orientales’. Barcelona : Editorial Cervantes, 1921.
  • GUIRAO, Pedro. Omar Khayyam. Las mejores poesías (líricas) de los mejores poetas. XXXI. Barcelona, Cervantes, 1922 (Potter 517)
  • BERNABÉ, Manuel. Rubáiyát de Omar Khayyam. Manilla, Imp. de la Vanguardua, 1923.
  • GARCIA CALDÉRON, Ventura. Omar Kheyyam. Rubaiyat. San José de Costa Rica, El Convivio, 1925.
  • GONZÁLEZ, Joaquín V. Rubáiyát de Omar Khayyám. Buenos Aires, Roldán, 1926. (Potter 518)
  • PROPATO, Francisco. Ensayo crítico sobre Las Rubáiyát de Umar-i-Khayyám. Acompañado de la versión castellana y de notas. Paris, Bourdon, 1930.

Peripheral Transmodernities : South-to-South Intercultural Dialogues between the Luso-Hispanic World and “the Orient.” Ed. by Ignacio Lopez-Calvo. Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, c2012. ISBN 9781443837262.

Read about about this book on: http://ignaciolopezcalvo.blogspot.nl/2012/02/peripheral-transmodernities-south-to.html

A number of Borges’s rubaiyat can be found at: http://cronicasdeotros.blogspot.nl/2010/03/del-poema-de-omar-jaiyiam-omar-khayyam.html

The Rubáiyát in Afrikaans

Hugo RoebaijatA new translation of the Rubáiyát into Afrikaans was recently published in Pretoria, South Africa, by Proteia Boekhuis. Daniel Hugo, poet and critic, selected fifty quatrains from FitzGerald’s version, which he declares essential, the rest being reiterations. Long ago Hugo was struck by the translation of the Dutch poet J.H. Leopold, when he was a student. Now, forty years later, this resulted in a new publication called Die roebaijat van Omar Khajjam. 50 kwatryne vertaal deur Daniel Hugo.

Today we know of six translations in Afrikaans:

  • Die Rubáiyát van Omar Khayyám. Volgens die Engelse bewerking van Edward FitzGerald in Afrikaans oorgesit deur C.J. Langenhoven. [Kaapstad, Nasionale Pers Beperk, 1923]. (Also in: Die pad van Suid-Afrika, 1933).
  • Rubaijat van Omar Khajjam. Charles Herman Bosman. Kaapstad, Colin Reed-McDonald, 1948.
  • ‘Verse van die tentmaker, Omar, die Persiese digter’. C. Louis Leipoldt. In: Geseënde skaduwees. Johannesburg, Afrikaanse Pers-boekhandel, 1949.
  • Die onherwinbare hede. Ruba’ijat van Omar Chajjam. Verwerk door A. H. Jonker. Kaapstad, Juta & Kie., 1950.
  • Antwoord aan Omar Khayyám, met Vertaling van die Rubaiyat deur D.B. van Soelen. Pretoria, Unie-Boekhandel, 1965.
  • Rubáiyát van Omar Khayyám. Sebastiaan Basson. Rayton, Woordewinkel, 1994. ISBN 0620208589.

Listen to the interview with Daniel Hugo on the weekly RSG programme Vers en Klank  
The introduction (in Afrikaans) is also available at Neder-L, elektronisch tijdschrift voor de Nederlandistiek.

Die roebaijat van Omar Khajjam. 50 kwatryne vertaal deur Daniel Hugo, Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria, 2014, 80 pp., ISBN (gedrukte boek): 978-1-4853-0086-1, ISBN (e-boek): 978-1-4853-123-3.

Two recent volumes reviewed

Dulac illustrationIn the recent issue of ‘Iranian Studies’, Erik Nakjavani, (Professor Emeritus of Humanities, University of Pittsburgh, USA) reviews and discusses two recent volumes on the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. The first is Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: A Famous Poem and its Influence, by William H. Martin and Sandra Mason (Anthem Press, 2011).
The reviewer discusses this work in respect of contemporary views about reception and assessment of poetry, by enthusiasts and devotees as well as scholars and academics. Some quatrains are quoted to illustrate ontological and metaphysical dimensions in the Rubáiyát, which turns this part of the review into a more or less philosophical essay.
Next Nakjavani reviews a second volume: Edward 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), in which he summarizes and discusses the separate essays. This volume contains the essays that were presented at a conference, held at the University of Cambridge, July 2009.
The reviewer judges the two volumes as “dual complementary works of scholarship, reflection, and academic research, in the strongest sense of the adjectives. Scholars, academics, literary critics, translators, and those who love poetry and share Khayyám’s and FitzGerald’s twofold concerns with the human lived experience of being and nonbeing will find these twin texts of much interest.”

Erick Nakjavani (2014) FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: Critical
Celebrations of a Beloved Poem, Iranian Studies, 47:4, 627-648, DOI: 10.1080/00210862.2014.906184