Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat and Western "Ventriloquism"

There's a great article by Marina Warner in the London Review of Books about the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám by Edward FitzGerald--a work that is better understood as "channeling" than translating and that is remarkably reminiscent of the way the Thousand and One Nights was assimilated into Western literature.

The consideration of FitzGerald's--apparently quite inspired--rendering of Khayyam's work turns into a reflection on the act of translation itself (something I'm alway fascinated with) and on the way Western authors have spoken through Eastern alter-egos. To some degree, FitzGerald seems to have well aware of what he was doing. I enjoyed this quote: 
...FitzGerald wrote: ‘But at all Cost, a Thing must live: with a transfusion of one’s own worse Life if one can’t retain the Original’s better. Better a live Sparrow than a stuffed Eagle.’

(found via the Literary Saloon).

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.