Omar Khayyam and the Skeptical Tradition Against Islam.
Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society, 2004.
In 1859, the year that saw the first edition of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, there appeared The Ruba’iyat of ‘Omar Khayyam, the Astronomer Poet of Persia, an anonymous translation of the quatrains of an obscure medieval Persian poet, who was better known as a mathematician. Unlike Darwin’s classic which was an immediate success, the first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s inspired paraphrase went almost unnoticed and was remaindered. But it came to the attention of another skeptic, the poet Swinburne, and later the Pre-Raphaelite Rossetti, who between them launched The Ruba’iyat on its career of extraordinary popularity that remains unabated (2nd edn., revised and enlarged, 1868; 3rd edn., revised, 1872, 4th edn., revised, 1879, and with felicitous consequences for the history of English poetry.