• Tue / 2 July 2019 / 15:17
  • Category: Culture and Art
  • News Code: 98041105796
  • Journalist : 99999

Omar Khayyam’s impact on literature, society in West

Omar Khayyam’s impact on literature, society in West

Tehran (ISNA) - The Persian astronomer, mathematician, and poet Omar Khayyam was born in 1048 in Nishapur (a city in Khorasan Razavi Province). He received his early education from a scholar named Sheikh Mohammad Mansuri and started his career with teaching algebra and geometry.

Khayyam’s most famous work ‘Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra’ which he completed in 1070 includes the basic algebraic principles. In 1077 another major work was written by Khayyam, ‘Sharh ma ashkala min musadarat kitab Uqlidis’ meaning “Explanations of the Difficulties in the Postulates of Euclid”. It was not until 6 centuries later when an Italian mathematician, Giordano Vitale made further advances on Khayyam’s theory. Other book by Khayyam known as ‘Problems of Arithmetic’ is dedicated to music and algebra.

He was a well-known astronomer of the time who made several reformations in Iranian calendar.  The Jalali Calendar became the base for other calendars and is also known to be more accurate than the Gregorian calendar. Besides being a great mathematician and astronomer, his fame in the West is due to a collection of his poems “The Rubaiyat”.

Professor of Comparative Literature in Imam Reza University of Mashhad, Dr. Maryam Kouhestani in an interview with ISNA talked about Omer Khayyam, as a great poet with more than a thousand ‘Rubaiyat’ or verses. He gained international attention as a poet through the translations of Edward Fitzgerald in 1859. His poetry is also translated to 70 languages.

Here is the full text of Dr. Maryam Kouhestani’s the interview with ISNA:

Omar Khayyam was a proficient philosopher and a poet. There are several books published on this school of thought and many translations of his works in different languages. 

In addition, Khayyam was familiar with the science of medicine. He studied medicine in his young. He knew himself as an apprentice of Ibn Sina and studied his books.

Khayyam published no poetry in his lifetime but he was well-known as a scientist and philosopher, and today his Rubáiyát are the most famous part of his work.

The first scholar who studied Omar Khayyam was the English orientalist, Thomas Hyde (1636-1703), devoted some space to the life and works of Khayyam, and translated one quatrain (robāʿi) into Latin.

Sir Gore Ouseley (1770 -1844) was a British entrepreneur, linguist and diplomat. He knew the Persian language well and collected several manuscripts of Iranian books and donated it to the library of Oxford University.   

In the nineteenth century, the popularity of FitzGerald's Rubáiyát raised not only in Britain, but also in America. He was a graduate of Persian literature at Oxford University. He translated ‘Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám’ with the form of Rubai in English. FitzGerald modified his translation several times and the fourth edition of Khayyam's Rubaiyat was published in English in 1879 and the fifth edition (last edition) was also published shortly after his death.

Although Khayyam is better known in Europe (the West) with Fitzgerald’s version, Edward Henry Winfield (1836-1922), a translator of Persian literature presented an accurate translation of Khayyam's Rubaiyat. His work included 500 Rubai while FitzGerald translated only 101. The main difference between these two works is Winfield has remained loyal to the principle of Persian poetry.

FitzGerald considerably distorted the original “Rubaiyat” to make it conform to Victorian romanticism. These distortions and non-Khayyamian verses had led some to consider Khayyam’s poem as a love song instead of a philosophical one.

In 1892 the “Khayyam Club” was founded in London. It was a center of gathering for British thinkers and intellectuals. The Club was formed to commemorate the Victorian writer, Edward FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The success of Khayyam Club in London led to the establishment of Khayyam Clubs in Germany, Netherlands and United States. The Khayyam Club today meets regularly every year in March and November to commemorate Khayyam, FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat at the Savile Club, London. 

Khayyam has also influenced Western music. Granville Bantock, a British musician, in the early twentieth century created the album “Omar Khayyam” inspired by his poems.

William Edward Story, a great mathematician in the United States believed that Khayyam was equal to Kepler and Newton.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed to Khayyam and his poems in his article "Literature and Social Objectives" on Persian poetry.

Khayyam influenced Mark Twain and T. S Eliot, well-known American authors.

He has also inspired Jack London, American novelist in his "The Wolf of the Sea” novel which tells the story of a conversation between two characters according to Khayyam's thoughts.

Hollywood has made many films of Khayyam’s life and works. “The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam” is the latest movie of his life made in 2005.

In the nineteenth century, the French people became familiar with Khayyam’s Rubaiyat when Jean-Baptiste Nicolai translated Khayyam's Rubaiyat into French.

French poet and playwright Morris Bushehr presented a play entitled "Dream of Khayyam" on the stage, in which he said, "I am one of the followers of Khayyam."

Besides, Jean Lahore wrote a book "Illusion" based on the philosophy of Khayyam.

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