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Kasra, Parichehr

FitzGerald's recasting of the "Rubáiyát". Parichehr Kasra.
Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 130 (1980) 3, pp. 458–489.

It was in 1859 when FitzGerald's translation of the Rubáiyát was published anonymously. The masterpiece was rescued by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, and Whitley Stokes; yet it is difficult to say who first discovered it in Bernard Quaritch's penny box. The discovery of this literary triumph was the beginning of an enthusiastic search for the identification of its highly gifted translator. Several men appear in this search. Among them are Carlyle, Ruskin, Browning, a Harvard professor of fine arts by the name of Charles Eliot Norton, and Edward Burne-Jones, one of the Victorian painters. The identification of the translator intrigued the highly challenging task of finding the original Persian rubā'īs of Omar Khayyám which had inspired the English poet to write these beautiful English quatrains. With Cowell's assistance, Edward Heron-Allen pointed at certain rubāis as the roots of FitzGerald's quatrains. Several decades later, in 1959, Arberry published The Romance of the Rubáiyát, in which he showed his additional work in the same direction. However, a careful study of FitzGerald's poem reveals that both Heron-Allen and Arberry have oversimplified the make up of the sources. To trace those elements of FitzGerald's translation which are drawn from his general readings of other Persian literary works is nearly impossible. But a close re-examination of his quatrains shows the complexity of the use he has made of the Ouseley and Calcutta manuscripts . It is to this end that the followingp ages are devoted.