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The Rubaiyat of Omar Khaiyam, Khaiyam, Omar. [Corvo, Baron [Rolfe, Frederick], translator]




At once mystic and a celebration of life, the rubaiyat (quatrains) form a beautiful, poetic work by Omar Khaiyam [Ghiyath al-Din Abu'l-Fath Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami] (1040-1131) the Persian Sufi poet, philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. The rubaiyat are considered by some to exalt earthly pleasure, consider death, and point out the unreliability of religion in addressing human issues.


This English translation by Frederick Rolfe ["Baron Corvo"] (1860-1913) was based on the French translation by Jean Baptiste Nicolas. Unlike most previous translators, Nicolas saw Khaiyam as a Sufi seeker of spiritual and philosophical enlightenment, thus references to earthly pleasure, lovers, food, and wine are viewed as metaphors and not literal.


Nicolas preserved the original verse form of the work, but Rolfe's English translation renders the quatrains as prose paragraphs and thus some regard it as a unique work. This translation proved controversial in its non-traditional interpretation by a translator who was not a scholar of the work and its deviation from Nicolas' view of Khaiyam as a spiritual seeker. In this edition the English paragraphs have the French verses on facing pages. Edward Heron-Allen provided the Introduction and extensive Notes on the translation. Heron-Allen, a scholar of Persian topics, author, and scientific polymath, provided support and, significantly, a premptive defense of Rolfe's controversial translation. Appendixes A and B cover Nicolas and compare versions of texts.


Illustrated in vivid color by Hamzeh Carr, an Egyptian artist working in Great Britain at the time. All 16 color plates are present, as called for. "Made" and printed at the Curwen Press, Great Britain, with plates printed by George Gibbons & Company, Leicester. This is the 1st US edition printed by Curwen from the set-up of their 1924 John Lane/Bodley Head edition. Paginated [4],v-xlviii,[4],2-192,[1] pp.


This 4to size book from Small, Maynard & Company, Boston, is printed on cream mould made paper. The text block is trimmed at the head, only, with blue top stain. In tan, fine linen cloth over boards, gilt and decoration to front cover, green text to spine, polychrome figural illustration to spine and front cover. The dust jacket replicates the binding but without gilt title and decoration.


Spine ends slightly bumped and bump to one corner. Light soil to the head and tail edges of the front cover, two tiny marks at the head. Faint toning at the edges of the pastedowns and endpapers. Dust jacket is intact with considerable wear and soil. Chips to head and tail of spine, all edges, and corners. Previous owner's name in ink on front pastedown.


An uncommon and controversial edition to be read as contrast to the Fitzgerald translation. This edition and translator Rolfe are both pointedly omitted from the Counans bibliography. In Very Good+ condition with a Good+ dust jacket and internally quite clean.


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