The number of artists known to have made illustrations for verses of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam keeps on expanding. Bob Forrest has been exploring the life and works of Helen Mckenzie Sinclair (1892-1986) who, he has established, created a number of black and white images and at least two oil paintings with titles linked to Rubaiyat quatrains. These were all shown in an exhibition at the Walker’s Galleries, London, in 1914, but little is known about what happened to this artwork afterwards.
Bob Forrest has posted the full results from his research, with many more details about the life and work of Helen Sinclair, on his web site; see http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Helen_Sinclair/Helen_Sinclair.htm. He has included reproductions of some of Helen Sinclair work, one example of which is shown right. The article tells a fascinating story and we hope it may lead to finding out more about the current location of the work of a fine artist. Our thanks to Bob for sharing his findings with other Rubaiyat enthusiasts.
Charles Mugleston has sent us information about a presentation that he will be doing at the Felixstowe Museum in Suffolk on Wednesday January 11th 2017, 7.30 pm at Broadway House, Orwell Road, Felixstowe.
Charles’ overall title for the evening is Edward FitzGerald and Felixstowe, though the Museum has the event billed as a talk on Omar Khayyam; we think all these aspects will in fact be covered. Charles will give a recital of the first edition of FitzGerald’s Ruba’iya’t, prefaced by a short talk outlining the known links between Edward FitzGerald, the Ruba’iya’t and Felixstowe – past & up to the present.
For more information on this event, see http://felixstowemuseum.org/?ai1ec_event=evening-talks-programme-4&instance_id=750. And if you can get there, do go along. We have heard one of Charles’ recitals of the Ruba’iya’t before and we know that his is a very insightful presentation. Listening in this way is a good method of introducing newcomers to the beauty and music of FitzGerald’s verse, as well as the underlying thought of the poem.
David Calderisi has sent us the following basic question.
Who first used the word “rubaiyat”? Was it FitzGerald? If so, where did he get it? Did he invent it? Is the word used in the title of the Ouseley manuscript? Or in any other compilation.
Our immediate reaction is that we have to distinguish between the general use of the term rubaiyat in Persian poetry and its application to a collection of verses attributed to Omar Khayyam, either in Persian or in some other language. On the first issue, we know that the word rubai (one quatrain) dates back to the 10th century CE and is attributed to the Persian poet Rudaki. We need to do more research to establish the first use of the plural word rubaiyat for a collection of verses or in connection with Khayyam, and we hope there are some readers who already know the answers?
Please add your comments below.
Early this year, we posted an enquiry about an unusual edition of the Rubaiyat published in 1933, with verses by David Eugene Smith based on a verbatim translation by Hashim Hussein, and illustrations by Rassam-I Arjangi. The link to this post is https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/seeking-information-on-david-eugene-smith-hashim-hussein-and-rassam-i-arjangi/ .
Bob Forrest provided some initial information about David Eugene Smith in a comment on the post. He has now written up the results of more extensive research on Smith and the other protagonists in a section on his own website, see http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/D_Eugene_Smith/D_Eugene_Smith.htm.
Bob provides more background on the Rubaiyat edition, with examples of the translation and images from the book itself, as well as extensive background on Smith as a mathematician as well as a poet. There is also information about Hussein and the illustrator Arjangi. Thanks to Bob from all of us for sharing his findings with others who are interested.
This blog on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and related subjects has now been in existence since April 2012, over four years ago. A look at the subjects covered in the posts shows the wide range of aspects of the field in which people have either been researching, or have been seeking information. They have ranged from details about obscure illustrators or editions of the Rubaiyat to the interpretations of FitzGerald’s version of certain quatrains, and from aspects of Khayyam’s philosophy to comparative ‘translations’ of the Persian verses into English and other languages.
Over the past four years, there have been a number of examples where requests for help with data have been met by those who already knew about the subject or who were willing to spend some time of their own examining the subject and using the resources to which they had access, notably their local academic libraries. We have been involved in a couple of such co-operative research projects. They have also used personal networks of contacts in the field, something that we hope might be enhanced by the kind of international Rubaiyat groupings mentioned in a recent post – https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/greater-co-operation-among-rubaiyat-collectors-and-researchers/.
Most of the colleagues who have posted items on the blog are following their own specific interests and priorities in their enquiries. But there are still many more topics to be explored. We are interested to know whether there are any obvious research topics that our readers feel are being neglected, despite the many interesting subjects currently being investigated. In particular:
Are there some areas of research which might help us to do more to bring the Rubaiyat to public awareness to students and others today? – see earlier post on this subject, https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/the-rubaiyat-of-omar-khayyam-for-the-21st-century-how-can-we-bring-it-more-into-current-thinking-and-discussion/.
Is there scope for more co-operative research in Rubaiyat related topics, particularly on projects that might involve local schools or universities in part of the research efforts?
Please share your thoughts and add your comments on these important questions.