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Dancing to the Rubaiyat in 1909

April 30, 2014

Bob Forrest has sent us the following news of an unusual Rubaiyat edition.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

I recently acquired a small copy (13.5cm by 10.0cm) of the Rubaiyat published as “Persian Poets No.1” by T.N. Foulis of Edinburgh and London in 1905. It is Potter #28. The front cover (Fig. 1), however, is neatly stamped or printed “Cotillon, 30th Sept. 1909”, and on the insides of the front cover (Fig. 2) and back cover (Fig. 3) are very neatly pasted what are perhaps best described as cast lists for seven “Figures” – that is, for seven masques or dance formations, presumably accompanied by sung or recited versions of the Rubaiyat verses associated with them. (The Cotillon was originally an 18th century dance for four couples, but in the course of the 19th century it apparently evolved to include more couples with more complex dance figures. From the cast lists of Figs. 2 and 3, though, there don’t seem to be many ‘rules’ for how many people are to be involved, couples or otherwise – hence my guess use of the word masque above.)

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

Fig.2

Fig.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The titled and presumably wealthy people involved in the cast-lists, plus the professional neatness with which the cast lists have been pasted in, and with which the “Cotillon” inscription on the front cover has been applied, perhaps suggest that the publisher Foulis was commissioned to produce a special imprint of Potter #28 precisely for this event. If that is the case, there may well be other examples of such special issues ‘out there’, not just printed by Foulis, but by other publishers as well. Do any readers know of any such ?

Fig. 4 is the title page; Fig. 5 shows verse 1 (first edition) but also shows on the facing page that it was printed in Edinburgh (there is no indication of where the Cotillon of 1909 took place, unfortunately – but can we guess Scotland, and near Edinburgh? Many of the names in the cast have Scottish associations in the vicinity of Edinburgh); and Fig. 6 gives details of the Persian Poets’ Series and of J.K.M. Shirazi’s book The Life of Omar al-Khayyami (also published by Foulis in 1905.)

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 6

Fig. 6

 

 

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