MES 322K • OMAR KHAYYAM AND PLACE IN LIT-W
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Omar Khayyam and His Place in Literature is a Persian literature (in translation) course, as well as a course in Middle Eastern cultures and English and world literatures. Using Edward FitzGerald's The Rubaèyát of Omar Khayyám (5th edition, 1879) as the core text, the course examines the life and works of Omar Khayyam (1048-1131), the history of the Iranian plateau from the Achaemenids (559-330 BCE) to the time of Khayyam, and the Islamic backdrop to Khayyam's life and times. In this context, culture-specific features of FitzGerald's poem receive attention. The course examines connections between FitzGerald's English poem and medieval Persian poems which inspired FitzGerald and treats the quatrain tradition in Persian and English. In this context, the course traces the influence of Khayyamic quatrains and ideas and FitzGerald's poem on Persian and English literatures. In the lastnamed regard, course attention focuses on such works of T.S. Eliot (1896-1965) which FitzGerald's poem inspired or otherwise influenced as "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and The Waste Land and on the minor world literature classic called The Blind Owl by the Iranian writer Sadeq Hedayat (1903-1951). The course concludes with an appreciation of the Khayyamic world view in modern art and life.
class participation (10% of the course grade), eight essays of two pages each on assigned literary critical, historical, and cultural topics (=writing component, 5% of the course grade each), and two review tests (25% of the course grade each). The course has no final examination.
Edward FitzGerald's The Rubaðyát of Omar Khayyám (Dover Thrift Edition), T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and Other Poems (Centennial Edition or later), N.J. Dawood's translation of The Koran (Penguin Classics), D.P. Costello's translation of The Blind Owl (Grove Weidenfeld), and a course packet called "Omar Khayyam and His Place in Literature" (available in photocopied sections at Paradigm Books, 407 W. 24th Street).