THE QUATRAINS OF OMAR KHAYYAM.
([Worcester, Massachusetts]: Privately printed, 1906). 247 x 160 mm. (9 5/8 x 6 3/8"). 1 p.l., xiv, , 290 pp.Translated by Eben Francis Thompson. FIRST ISSUE OF THE FIRST PRINTING. Copy A of 85 DELUXE COPIES on Japon (and 435 regular copies).
BEAUTIFUL RICH BROWN MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, BY THE ROSE BINDERY OF BOSTON (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in), covers with a triple gilt-ruled border enclosing a gilt-ruled frame with intertwining garlands, raised bands, two compartments with gilt lettering, the others with gilt floral tool surrounded by rules and dots, FULL MOROCCO DOUBLURES with a green panel surrounded by a thick brown frame with repeating gilt floral and star motifs, the doublures facing green morocco endleaves followed by cream watered silk flyleaves, all edges gilt, partially unopened. Housed in a sturdy felt-lined board slipcase with morocco lip. With two portraits (including frontispiece) and a facsimile leaf. SIGNED BY THE TRANSLATOR on both the limitations page and frontispiece, AND INSCRIBED on the second portrait to Charles Dana Burrage. Potter 378. ◆The spine perhaps just a shade darker than the boards, but THE BINDING IN VIRTUALLY MINT CONDITION. Some offsetting from plates, one opening with offsetting from a bookmark, a couple negligible finger smudges, otherwise in fine condition internally.
Handsomely bound and in an exceptionally well-preserved binding, this work represents "the whole range of poems attributed to Omar Khayyam," translated with great fidelity to the original language. Although Edward FitzGerald's lauded 1859 rendering of the Rubaiyat greatly popularized the work in the West, it is well known that the author took great liberties with the text, resulting in a free translation that was as much a creation of FitzGerald's as it was the work of the original poet. The translator of the present work, Eben Francis Thompson (1859-1939), was an American lawyer, writer, and book collector whose chief interests included Shakespeare, miniature books, and Omar Khayyam. According to his obituary in the American Antiquarian, "for years he collected the varying editions of the Persian poet . . . including the immortal translation by Fitzgerald. With the full realization of the magnificence of Fitzgerald's English verse, he wondered whether he could essay a poetical translation of the Persian text, but one which would more closely follow the original. Stimulated by the advice of his friend, Nathan Haskell Dole, he began to learn Persian. By 1906 he had finished his monumental task, bringing out in a volume of 290 pages his own translation of 878 quatrains of Omar, an achievement remarkable both for his poetic ability and his diligence." The present item is one of 85 deluxe copies of this work, and as such, a former owner has given it an appropriately elegant binding. Around the turn of the 20th century, Boston was home to a number of hand binderies, formed as part of the American embrace of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Hoping to stand out from the competition, the Rose Bindery did not advertise, but published a small booklet outlining the services it offered for "the owners of libraries but more especially of rare volumes, first editions, unique books that require new bindings or where the present binding should be repaired so as to preserve or restore its original character and beauty." The booklet also explained the bindery's creative approach: "It has been truly said that a great deal more thought should be put into what is left out of the design than to what is put into it; dignity and character should always be uppermost in the mind of the designer." Our binding embodies this philosophy, with restrained and elegant tooling that has been expertly executed using the finest quality materials. Potter indicates that there was a "reissue on inferior paper" of the Thompson text in 1906, but it was apparently not later reprinted. (ST17640-152)