May 22nd, 2014
Episode 383 of 550 episodes
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published in 1859, was a poem by Edward FitzGerald that was based on the verses of the 11th-century Persian scholar Omar Khayyam. Not a single copy was sold in the first few months after the work's publication, but after it came to the notice of members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood it became enormously influential. The Rubaiyat made Khayyam the best-known Eastern poet in the English-speaking world and FitzGerald's version is one of the most admired works of Victorian literature. Melvyn Bragg is joined by Charles Melville, Professor of Persian History at the University of Cambridge; Daniel Karlin, Winterstoke Professor of English Literature at the University of Bristol and Kirstie Blair, Professor of English Studies at the University of Stirling.