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Barton, Anna

FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: Popularity and Neglect, edited by Adrian Poole, Christine van Ruymbeke, William H. Martin, and Sandra Mason (Review). A. Barton.
Victorian Studies, 56 (2014), Nr 2 (Winter), pp. 327-329.

The volume, based on a conference held in 2009 to mark both FitzGerald’s bicentenary and the 150th anniversary of his poem’s publication, is part of a small but significant flurry of publications generated by this double anniversary, including a special edition of Victorian Poetry (2008) edited by Erik Gray and a new edition of the poem itself, edited by Daniel Karlin (2009). As a number of the book’s contributors remark, it is an anniversary that is shared and overshadowed by the bicentenaries of Tennyson and Charles Darwin and by the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species (1859); but the collection both interrogates and makes a virtue of this relative marginality. While it recognises the Rubáiyát’s deliberate avoidance of the kinds of responsibility that attend on a place in the cultural limelight, it is equally sceptical of narratives of avoidance that might otherwise allow it to be overlooked by accounts of nineteenth-century poetry within the academy.