FITZGERALD, EDWARD (1809-1883, writer and translator)
FITZGERALD TO HIS PUBLISHER ANNOUNCING A RIVAL VERSION OF 'THE RUBÁIYÁT OF OMAR KHAYYÁM': 'Mr Whinfield, who had sent me a learned Translation from the Persian heretofore, lately sent me his Version of Omar, published by Trübner. So now there are two Rival Translations and Publishers, Hurrah!'
Bernard Quaritch, the leading bookseller of his day, had published, at FitzGerald's expense, his translation of the Rubáiyát in 1859. Famously, it was to remain unsold and almost unknown for two years, until a copy, remaindered at a penny, found its way into the hands of Rossetti and Swinburne. In asking Quaritch to hunt him out a copy of Dumas's plays, FitzGerald with mocking self-deprecation refers to one of the bookseller's recent £1000 purchases (no doubt at one of the Sunderland sales from Blenheim which were then in full swing). E.H. Whinfield had sent FitzGerald an advance copy of his Quatrains of Omar Khayyám (1882) that December. This opens: "At dawn a cry through all the tavern shrilled,/ 'Arise, my brethren of the revelers' guild,/ That I may fill our measure full of wine,/ Or e'er the measure of our days be filled". The earlier poem to which FitzGerald refers is Whinfield's translation of Rumi's Masnavi I Ma'navi. Not published in The Letters of Edward FitzGerald (c.1980), edited by Alfred McKinleyTerhune and Annabelle Burdick Terhune. FitzGerald's own translation has to date appeared in 650 different editions, with illustrations by 150 artists, has been translated into 70 languages and set to music by 100 composers.