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Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam [Paperback]

Omar Khayyam
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 1981
Philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, Khayyam as a poet possesses a singular originality. His poetry is richly charged with evocative power and offers a view of life characteristic of his stormy times, with striking relevance to the present day. This translation by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs is beautifully and lavishly illustrated in colour with numerous examples of Persian miniature painting. It also contains a valuable introduction and several appendices, including an essay on Persian painting.

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'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 alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

An illustrated gift edition of the quatrains of Omar the tentmaker, which have more admirers today than ever before. Edward Fitzgerald's rendition stands as a monument to the translator's art.

Full-color photographs throughout. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Although I have a handsome face and colour, Cheek like the tulips, form like the cypress, It is not clear why the Eternal Painter Thus tricked me out for the dusty show-booth of earth. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Omar and the Spice Girls Jan. 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning June 23 2000
Format:Hardcover
After reading "The Rubaiyat," I was absolutley stunned. I have never read a more beautiful commentary on life and the world. This book's language and symbolism speaks to every human being on a very special, very personal level. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Raise your glass to the transience of life Jan. 4 2004
Format:Paperback
Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) was a Persian mathematician whom we in the West know primarily as the poet of the Rubaiyat (literally: quatrains). In fact most people only know Omar Khayyam for the 101 individual quatrains translated and arranged by Edward Fitzgerald in 1859. Fitzgerald's work was more than an ordinary translation, one critic wrote, it was so inspired that some people believed it was an English poem with Persian allusions.
Omar Khayyam writes about the fragility and transience of life,
Oh threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain - this Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies. (#63)
and about the inspiration to be found in wine and friendship:
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! (#12)
In his best moments he rises above what some critics saw as cynical lament and reaches an appealing state of amused resignation:
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door where in I went. (#27)
The world of Omar Khayyam - Islamic Persia in the eleventh century - demands some explanation to fully appreciate the poetry. Unfortunately, my edition (Peter Pauper Press, White Plains, NY, 1991) did not contain footnotes to the quatrains and only the shortest of introductions. Scholarly comment is often indicated for key words in poetry. Take the word "wine", for example. It is interesting to be reminded that the subject of wine was inflammable because wine and drunkenness were prohibited by the principles of Islamic law.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Translating Khayyum 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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Truth
These reflective,honest and wholly recitable poems are an endless delight.Who can argue with their truths?Maybe the brothersjuddot. Read more
Published on Dec 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Truth
These reflective,honest and wholly recitable poems are an endless delight.Who can argue with their truths? (... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Truth
These reflective,honest and wholly recitable poems are an endless delight.Who can argue with their truths?Maybe the (... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The one poet worth reading
Khayyam's poetry is a beacon of honesty and courage in a writing form rife with the romantic,silly and childish. Read more
Published on Dec 6 2001 by "timothy1146"
5.0 out of 5 stars The prose of mortality, temporality and eternal Joy!
If anyone who can so clearly pose the question of mortality and temporality of our existence it is Omar Khayyam. Read more
Published on July 24 2001 by M. A. ZAIDI
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent translation and superb illustrations
(This review refers to ISBN 0140059547, the translation by Avery and Heath-Stubbs of the Ruba'iyat.)
Fans of Khayyam will undoubtedly want the Fitzgerald translation of the... Read more
Published on March 21 2001 by Geoff Puterbaugh
3.0 out of 5 stars signpost on the road to the abandonment of God
Published in 1859, the same year as Darwin's Origin of Species, the Rubaiyat, in addition to being great poetry, is a key signpost on the road to the abandonment of God by Western... Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2000 by Orrin C. Judd
5.0 out of 5 stars the various translations are very different
One should be wary when purchasing or reading a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The various translations are VERY different. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, I would recommend it to anyone!
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... Read more
Published on Sept. 3 1999
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