Edward FitzGerald

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FitzGerald, Edward,

1809–83, English man of letters. A dilettante and scholar, FitzGerald spent most of his life living in seclusion in Suffolk. His masterpiece, a translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, appeared anonymously in 1859 and passed unnoticed until Dante Gabriel Rossetti made it famous. Revised editions followed in 1868, 1872, and 1879. FitzGerald's Rubaiyat has long been one of the most popular English poems. Although actually a paraphrase rather than a translation of a poem by the 11th-century Persian poet Omar KhayyamOmar Khayyam
, fl. 11th cent., Persian poet and mathematician, b. Nishapur. He was called Khayyam [tentmaker] probably because of his father's occupation. The details of his life are mostly conjectural, but he was well educated and became celebrated as the outstanding
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, it retains the spirit of the original in its poignant expression of a philosophy counseling man to live life to the fullest while he can. Among FitzGerald's other works are Euphranor (1851), a Platonic dialogue, and Polonius (1852), a collection of aphorisms.

Bibliography

See his letters (ed. by A. M. and A. B. Terhune, 4 vol., 1980); biographies by A. M. Terhune (1947) and T. Wright (2 vol., 1904; repr. 1971).

Fitzgerald, Edward

 

Born Mar. 31, 1809, in Bredfield, Suffolk; died June 14, 1883, in Merton, Norfolk. English poet and translator.

Fitzgerald graduated from Cambridge University in 1830; his philosophical prose dialogue Euphranor (1851) recalls his years at the university. Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1859; 25 editions prior to the end of the 19th century) has been deemed a classic in English literature. In his free translation of the Persian original, in which only 49 quatrains are more or less precisely translated, 44 are corruptions, several belong to other poets, and three are the work of Fitzgerald himself, Fitzgerald accentuated themes of joie de vivre and melancholy, contrasting them to the dull prose of bourgeois existence. In addition to bringing world renown to Omar Khayyam, his translation had a significant influence on the poetry of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Fitzgerald also translated works by Sophocles, Aeschylus, Calderón (six dramas), and Jami.

WORKS

Poetical and Prose Writings, vols. 1–7. New York–London, 1902–03.
Dictionary of Madame de Sévigné, vols. 1–2. London, 1914.

REFERENCES

Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1958. Page 33.
Terhune, A. M. The Life of Edward Fitzgerald. London, 1947.
Arberry, A. J. The Romance of the Rubaiyat. London, 1959.