The imagined elites of the Omar Khayyám Club. Michelle Kaiserlian.
In: FitzGerald's Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Popularity and neglect. Ed. by A. Poole et al. London, Anthem Press, 2011. pp. 147-174.
This study begins with a brief description of the role of elite men’s clubs in late- and post-Victorian society. In the first section, ‘Claiming the Rubáiyát’, Kaiserlian shows how members of the London Club distinguished themselves from outsiders through their exclusive knowledge and appreciation of the poem. ‘FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát & The Pilgrimage of the Rose’ analyses one of the Club’s early ceremonies, revealing imperialist metaphors at work in their worship of the Persian poem and its English translator. ‘Ordering Omar’s World’ investigates Clubbists’ regard for Khayyám as bastion of ‘the good life’ and their use of the poem’s Eastern context as a springboard for exotic indulgences. In the final section, ‘Containing the Rubáiyát’, she demonstrates how Clubbists’ privileged activities as collectors and publishers and their extraordinary objects both reflected their desire to contain the poem’s influence and maintain its status for themselves.