Letters and Politics

KPFA Special – The History Behind The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam

Guest: Juan Cole is a public intellectual, prominent blogger and essayist, and the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is the translator of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam: A New Translation from the Persian.

Omar Khayyam (1048 – 1131) was a Persian astronomer and mathematician born in Nishapur in northeastern Iran who lived and worked at the courts of the Seljuk dynasty. Modern scholars agree that there is very little (if any) of the collected work of poetry know as the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that can be certainly attributed to the historical figure. A tradition of attribution grew up in the centuries after Khayyam’s death which culminated in Edward Fitzgerald’s translation in the 19th Century.