Khayyam has been the subject of speculation on the part of literary critics ever since Edward Fitzgerald published his own version of the Rubaiyat in 1859. This edition represented the first opportunity to study in English the work of Khayyam by a Persian scholar. There is no conclusive evidence to prove which of the many quatrains attributed to Khayyam are authentic. Ali Dashti therefore constructs a likeness of the poet from references found in the works of writers of his day or immediately after, and from Khayyam's own works on philosophy, mathematics and astronomy, of which the authenticity is not questioned. Khayyam emerges as a widely read and broad-minded scholar, immersed in his own studies, cautious and moderate, averse to committing himself on controversial questions. Using this portrait Dashti draws up a list of some hundred quatrains which are in keeping with Khayyam's character. Selling point: An elegant and accurate translation which throws light on the nature of Khayyam's religious and philosophical beliefs.

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