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Charles Conder and the Rubaiyat – Some new research findings

July 13, 2017

Bob Forrest has added yet another name to the impressive list of people associated with the Rubaiyat that he has documented on his wide-ranging website.  This time the person is Charles Conder (1868–1909), an English artist who also worked for a time in Australia as well as in various European countries.

As Bob documents, ‘in the 1890s Conder met and became associated with Aubrey Beardsley, Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, Charles Ricketts and Will Rothenstein, not to mention the likes of Oscar Wilde, Max Beerbohm and Toulouse–Lautrec’.  Conder did not produce illustrations in a published edition of the Rubaiyat, though he had had hopes of doing so in the early 1890’s.  However several of his individual drawings relate to FitzGerald’s version of the poem, including quotes from the text.  And Conder inserted a set of nine hand produced illustrations in a copy of Macmillan’s 1891 edition of the Rubaiyat (an example is shown here).

This copy is now in a private collection to which Bob has had access, and his article includes reproductions of the Conder illustrations.  There is also much comment and analysis of Conder’s inspiration for his interpretation of the quatrains and other paintings.  The full article can be accessed at .

Thank you, Bob, for illuminating one more corner of Rubaiyat history.


Kibbles for the Soul. A new book by Martin Kimeldorf *

July 11, 2017

Martin Kimeldorf’s new book  Kibbles for the Soul has the sub title Howling at the Fatalism, Joy and Transience of Life.  In it, he uses the format of the Rubaiyat quatrain to communicate his own reactions to many of the quandaries of life in the 20th and 21st centuries, drawing parallels with the fatalistic and agnostic views of Khayyam and FitzGerald.  The book contains some introductory background on the earlier authors and the history of the Rubaiyat, followed by themed sections on various fundamental questions.  The text is illustrated with pictures, mainly of Martin’s canine friends who have clearly played an important part in his life.

The poems in Kibbles for the Soul are what, in the context of the history of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, would be described as parodies of the FitzGerald original.  But they have a much more serious purpose that many of the earlier 20th century parodies, and Martin’s work shows how the message and medium of the Rubaiyat can be reinterpreted for our time.  The topical content and language will attract many younger readers who may be put off by FitzGerald’s Victorian language.  Here is an example from the section on Digital Conundrums:

Passwords locked me out in the cold
Protecting me from evil I’m told
Corporate thieves record my every move
My stolen data so quickly sold.

The book is available on Amazon UK and on

* For those like us to whom the word Kibbles was previously unknown, Martin provides a useful glossary.  His prime meaning is as follows:  ‘a pet snack or food, used as munchies or treats in between meals’.

More on The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art by Danton H. O’Day

June 29, 2017

Danton O’Day published the hardcover versions of his important new work on Rubaiyat Art back in March, see  Softcover versions of these books are now available and Danton tell us that the hardcover edition will only be available until September when he intends to make inexpensive trade books available.  The latter will not have the photo-quality pictures, that are included in the earlier editions.  Details of the editions currently available and how to obtain them are shown below.

The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art
Danton H. O’Day

Vol. I. The Illustrators  

  • Softcover Flexible, photo-quality paper, high-gloss laminated cover US $64.99
  • Hardcover, photo-quality paper, ImageWrap Cover design is printed on the hardcover US $79.99

Vol. II. Popular Themes

  • Softcover Flexible, photo-quality paper, high-gloss laminated cover US $39.49
  • Hardcover, photo-quality paper, ImageWrap Cover design is printed on the hardcover US $54.49

Vol. III. The Decorators

  • Softcover Flexible, photo-quality paper, high-gloss laminated cover US $45.49
  • Hardcover, photo-quality paper, ImageWrap Cover design is printed on the hardcover US $54.49
Note:  The softcover (blue cover) and hardcover (black cover) have different covers but only the blue cover is shown at the website

More things to go on the Rubaiyat trays

June 7, 2017

Bob Forrest has sent us details of a Rubaiyat decanter which he bought recently and which would go nicely on one of the Rubaiyat trays mentioned in earlier posts, with some Rubaiyat wine in it? – see .  

Bob writes as follows.

I bought this Rubaiyat decanter on ebay several months ago now. It is about 24cm tall, from its base to the top of the stopper. Unfortunately, it bears no maker’s mark, and as a result I haven’t been able to date it, so if any of your blog readers knows anything about it, please let me know!  Please add your comments below.

Rubaiyat roses in bloom again

June 5, 2017

These is the season that roses are in bloom in our gardens.  Roger Paas sent us this picture of a rose called Rubaiyat seen recently by a family member in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in the USA.  Alas this rose is apparently not available for sale in the UK.  It has a great colour and lovely looking blooms but is not quite the type of rose that is supposed to have been on the graves of Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald, which is more of an old fashioned climber.  The story of that rose, and a picture of a modern version of the rose, can be seen in an article in a past issue of Indiran magazine which is produced by the Ancient India and Iran Trust in Cambridge – see – .

The article and the story of the rose were also covered in an earlier post on this blog – see

Research Day on Omar Khayyam in Leiden Sat. 27th May 2017

May 31, 2017

We recently took part in this Research Day on Khayyam and his Rubaiyat which was held at the University of Leiden and organised by members of the University and the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society.  It was a very interesting and enjoyable occasion, giving participants the chance to meet old friends, exchange information and views, and learn about new research in the area of Khayyam, FitzGerald and Rubaiyat studies.  Brief details of the papers presented are shown below.  It is hoped that a fuller set of papers can be published in due course.  Our personal thanks go to Asghar Seyed-Gohrab and Jos Coumans for their efforts in setting up and running the event.


13.00 Words of Welcome

13.15 Bill Martin & Sandra Mason

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in the West.   How Edward FitzGerald & Edward Cowell made it popular

Three key topics were covered:  the history of Rubaiyat publication in the West, based on updated statistics;  the key role played by Edward Cowell as well as Edward FitzGerald in making the Rubaiyat accessible to Western readers;  an analysis of some of the factors contributing to the continuing popularity of the poem on a world-wide basis.

 14.00 Nasrollah Pourjavady

Omar Khayyam’s Idea of Being in His Quatrains

Unfortunately owing to visa problems, Prof Pourjavady was not able to attend the meeting, but Asghar Seyed-Gohrab presented a summary of part of his paper, dealing with the evidence from Khayyam’s own writings on his religious views and his position in relation to the Sufis.

 14.45 Asghar Seyed-Gohrab

Transgressing the Law: Khayyam and his Antinomian Views

This paper focussed particularly on modern Iranian views of Khayyam and his views, certain of which are at odds with orthodox Islamic teaching.  It included interesting examples of the use of Khayyam’s thinking by leading religious scholars in Iran as a basis for clarifying Islamic teaching.

15.15 Break

15.45 Jos Coumans

Comparative tables of the Calcutta & Bodleian quatrains

Jos Coumans’ invaluable work on concordances for different versions of the Rubaiyat is available on his dedicated web site . In this paper, Jos reviewed the different translations of the Rubaiyat that are available and some of the problems involved in comparing them, and showed the results of his recent work on the Calcutta manuscript of the poem.

 16.15 Rokus de Groot

Musical approaches to Omar Khayyâm’s Rubâiyât in the Netherlands

This presentation focused on modern musical settings of verses of the Rubaiyat by Dutch composers, include one by Rokus de Groot himself.  He played extracts from a variety of pieces, providing valuable introduction to these extracts which enhanced our awareness of their distinctive features.

17.00 Concluding remarks

There was a valuable Q&A session after each of the presentations as well as a short concluding discussion.  The issue of how to make the Rubaiyat approachable to younger generations was raised as it had been at the end of the Research Day in Cambridge last year – see

 At the end of the afternoon, there was a chance to see the section of the University in which the words of one of the verses of the Rubaiyat (in English) have been mounted on the walls (see below).  Initiatives such as this provide excellent publicity for the poem to potential new readers among the students.

Some things to go on the Rubaiyat themed trays

May 31, 2017

In response to the recent exchanges on Rubaiyat themed trays (see, Fred Diba has sent us an image of something that might be placed on such a tray, plus of course at least a couple of glasses.  Since the label on the bottle is difficult to photograph properly, he has transcribed the content as follows.

Barranco Oscuro presents
de Omar Khayyam

“En una taberna, pedi​ a un viejo sabio
que me informara sobre la suerte de aquellos que ya han partido
Me respondió:
Ya no volverán. Es todo lo que sé. ¡Bebe vino!

It is a bottle from the winery Barranco Oscuro (2008), produced in Navarra, Spain.  A look at their website suggests that for each year’s label their choose a different quatrain to put on the label – see .

Fred also draws readers attention to an alternative source of Rubaiyat vintage – the Rubaiyat Vineyard in Sonoma, CA: .

We can add to this collection two bottles, one each from Egypt and India, which we have received, and drunk, in recent years.  The relevant labels are shown below.