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Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Hardcover – August 15, 1983


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (August 15, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312695276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312695279
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'I found Robert Wilson's 'Omar Khayyam' very readable. It will stand well in print in Scotland' EDWIN MORGAN The Rubaiyat of Omar... takes on a contemporary gloss in a rumbustious reworking in Scots of the literal text of the Persian poet. THE HERALD --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, Persian (translation)

Customer Reviews

This particular book is very good.
R. G. Jordan
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is well translated here, perhaps even better than the more famous nineteenth century versions of Edward FitzGerald.
Dai-keag-ity
The ultimate truth that in life all that matters is love and joy.
M. A. ZAIDI

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Boris Bangemann on January 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
"The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam" translated by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs is available in two Penguin editions. This edition (ISBN 01400595447) comes in a larger format with 32 beautiful colored illustrations of Persian miniature paintings from the 16th and 17th century, and an essay on the history of the miniatures that points out the influence of Chinese painting on Persian graphic arts (an interesting subject in itself). The other edition is the Penguin Classics edition (ISBN 0140443843), which is identical to this edition but lacks the illustrations and the essay on Persian graphic arts. The illustrated, larger sized edition is definitely worth the slightly higher price, in my opinion.
A reader who is familiar with FitzGerald's classic "re-creation" - "translation" is a term that is too weak in this context - will be surprised at the defiant materialism of Omar Khayyam's quatrains in Avery's literal translation stripped of the poetic spark of FitzGerald's work.
For example, while the Victorian gentleman Edward FitzGerald chose to translate Omar Khayyam's praise of simple joys and poetry in his famous "A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, / A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou / Beside me singing in the Wilderness - / Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!", Peter Avery gives us not only a more literal translation (#98) but also a much more worldly (and spicy) version of the same theme:
If chance supplied a loaf of white bread,
Two casks of wine and a leg of mutton,
In the corner of a garden with a tulip-cheeked girl
There'd be enjoyment no Sultan could outdo.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I first read this work of art a month ago, and many times after that. My parents were surprised that I, being 14 years of age, liked it, although I think anyone with a bit of an understanding towards life would enjoy it. Being Persian myslef, and knowledgable towards the history of Omar Khayyam and his time,I read this book in Persian, English and French. Although I think that without doubt anyone who is able to should read the Persian edition, the English translation did not lose the touch and certain charm of the works. Don't underestimate your children either. I mean hey, give it a shot, they might like it!
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Stevens VINE VOICE on June 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is somewhat ironic (one might say "tragic") that Amazon chooses to lump reviews of multiple translations into each version of a book; in the case of the Rubaiyat, the two prevailing translations--FitzGerald's, and Avery and Heath-Stubbs'--could not be more different. As a general reader not terribly knowledgeable about Persian literature, I struggled before deciding on which version to read; influenced by the leading reviewer on this page, I read the FitzGerald version with illustrations by Dulac and the introduction by Byatt.

As a reader and occasional translator of a foreign language myself (although Japanese, not Persian) I was hesitant to read a version (one hesitates to call it a "translation") this old and this famously derided for its looseness with the original work by Omar Khayyam. And yet after comparing the two translations, I am glad that I read FitzGerald, for two main reasons.

First, true to his intention, FitzGerald accentuated the spirit of the original over the literal translation/transliteration of the original. The delightful impishness of Khayyam and the melancholy ephemerality of his Rubaiyat is wonderfully captured. FitzGerald made this artistic choice consciously, stating that "better a live sparrow than a stuffed eagle" ... although this modesty downplays the beautiful lyricism and Victorian elegance of his version.

Second, for better or for worse, this is the version that most captivated--and influenced--the world outside of Persia, including writers from Browning and Tennyson to O. Henry and Borges to Agatha Christie and Stephen King.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
One should be wary when purchasing or reading a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The various translations are VERY different. They are based on different original manuscripts, which do not contain exactly the same material. The FitzGerald translation is much more of an interpretation of Khayyam than a translation, although it is a wonderful piece of work in and of itself, it is victorian baroque romanticism not Sufism. From my own personal experience (I've read much of three of the translations, the ones by FitzGerald in the 1850s, by a professor from Cambridge made in the mid 1900s, and by Robert Graves in the 1960s) I would suggest that you go with the most modern translation (which is no longer the translation by Graves). The Graves translation definately is a work of both deep philosophical ideas and of beautiful poetry.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Homayun on June 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Many people accuse the Fitzgerald translation of deviating too much from the Persian original. Personally, I don't like to see poetry translated from one language to another in verse either, because I will always feel that something has been missed.
However, if it is not translated in verse, then it is no longer has the quality of the original poetry. So what shall we do here?
I think that Fitzgerald has done an excellent job in translating Khayyum. It is said that good poetry has a balance of two things - beautiful language and meaning. Ftizgerald has achieved this.
If you are looking for a more "literal" translation, to get exactly what Khayyum said and thought, then you are better to look to a word for word, unrhyming translation, that has taken care to keep the authentic quatrains only - not all the ones ascribed to him. The "Persian Heritage Series" has produced a good translation like this.
Also beware of "commentaries" telling you that Omar Khayyum was a sufi, mystic, or whatever... and that his verses have special meanings outside of the literal interpretation. It is true that poets in Persia used such imagery as "may" (wine), "maykhana" (tavern), "saqi" (cup-bearer), "yar-e nazanin" (lovely maiden) etc. etc. to bring across meanings of God, and heaven, though this doesn't mean that these things are always implied.
One of the qualities of poetry is that it is ambiguous. It must be recognised that people like Omar Khayyum and Hafez were living in times of religious persecution. If you said something against the established sect, then you could be accused of "kufr" (blasphemy) and punished accordingly.
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