The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám – Balfour Edition – a new e-book version is available
Some of us rank the Balfour illustrations for the Rubaiyat, published in 1920, as among our favourite interpretations. Norman Clark has now produced an e-book version of this rare edition, with additional commentary. Norman describes his project as follows.
It would be difficult to overstate the popularity of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát. Since it was first published in 1859, it has been translated into 70 languages; appeared in at least 1300 different editions, illustrated by 150 plus artists and set to music by 100 composers.
A reviewer in the Bookman considered Constable’s 1920 Art Deco edition of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám to be one of the most beautiful of the many editions of ‘Omar’ to have ever been published. The early 20th century was a Golden Age for lavish editions of the poem illustrated by the most accomplished artists of the day. Balfour’s stunning Art Deco style, gloriously decadent and risqué as it is, carries a strong echo of Beardsley. His remarkable suite of 38 illustrations epitomizes an the era of opulence, extravagance and a new found freedom of expression following the radical social changes caused by the First World War.
Books such as these, and particularly the Balfour edition of the Rubáiyát, are extremely rare these days. Balfour’s illustrations have scarcely been seen at all since the book was first published. This eBook aims to redress the balance somewhat since it contains the full suite of Balfour’s original illustrations facing quatrains from FitzGerald’s first version of his translation, exactly as they appeared in the 1920 print edition. There is also a supporting text of biographical notes concerning Omar Khayyám, FitzGerald and Ronald Balfour plus the texts for all five versions of FitzGerald’s translations.
The Balfour e-book version of the Rubaiyat can currently be purchased via the following web links.