Edward FitzGerald

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FitzGerald, Edward

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 Khayyam, 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.


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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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


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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.