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The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayaam
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The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayaam is known throughout the English-speaking world almost entirely through the medium of Edward Fitzgerald's mid-19th century translation. Over more than a hundred years that translation has become one of the best known and most widely quoted works of poetry in the English language. Fitzgerald, however, was an amateur student of Persian with no pretence at scholarship, and little or no understanding of Sufi symbolism. Much of his translation is paraphrase; even more is pure invention. Around it has grown up a mythology regarding Omar Khayyam and his alleged atheistic attitudes and blasphemies which has persisted in academic circles to this day.
Furthermore, the authenticity of the manuscripts used by Fitzgerald and subsequent translators is highly debatable and they cointain no verses upon which their charges of atheism and blasphemy could possibly be based.
There exists, however, in the possession of the family of Omar Ali-Shah, Sufi poet and classical Persian scholar, an earlier and authenticated manuscript. For the first time, a Persian scholar and a distinguished English poet have collaborated in a new translation of the Rubaiyyat which presents the Philosophy of Omar Khayyam in a very different light. The result is one of the most important literary revelations of our time, and will create considerable argument and discussion in literary and academic circles.
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