Author(s): Robert D. Richardson
Written in Persian in the eleventh century, Omar Khayyam's quatrains, known as rubai, were written individually for an audience at court, and explored the meanings of life, love, and friendship. They were almost completely unknown in the West until Edward FitzGerald--himself a relatively obscure critic--translated and organized some one hundred of them into a unified whole that he called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which he published anonymously in 1859. Ignored initially, it soon became a sensation--and FitzGerald with it, his work now translated into seventy languages--and one of the most-read works of literature of all time.
Deftly and eloquently recounting in turn the life stories of Khayyam and FitzGerald, linking them over the span of eight centuries, acclaimed biographer Robert Richardson has crafted the story of the legendary Rubaiyat itself, illuminating a literary classic and reinforcing its place in the canon of great world literature.
Weaving together the biographies of two poets separated by nearly a thousand years, Robert Richardson brings to life one of the most famous--and ancient--works of poetry in all existence.
An artful analysis of the lives of two poets separated by centuries, geography, and culture, united by hope. Kirkus Reviews This concise, stimulating, and fluent book is highly recommended. Library Journal [A] graceful, sympathetic account. Booklist In Richardson, the philosopher has found a tireless champion and a perceptive editor. Richardson is that increasingly rare phenomenon among academics, an enthusiast, even a lover, of his subjects. -- John Banville New York Review of Books on THE HEART OF WILLIAM JAMES A splendidly written book ... Richardson's critical discussions of the journals, 'Walden,' 'Cape Cod,' and the other works are invariably illuminating and cast a new light on Thoreau's sometimes cross-grained but fascinating personality. The Boston Globe on HENRY THOREAU: A LIFE OF THE MIND To read this book is to be touched on the shoulder by a thousand years of poetry and thought ... For those who understand Emerson, this book is unforgettable; it is essential. -- Mary Oliver on EMERSON: THE MIND ON FIRE A landmark study, certain to endure. Booklist on WILLIAM JAMES: IN THE MAELSTROM OF AMERICAN MODERNISM Richardson does a fine job of bringing the two poets to life for a modern audience for whom they are probably unfamiliar. Nearer the Heart's Desire is ultimately a biography not of the poets but of their shared poetry. Shelf Awareness [An]elegant dual biography of Khayyam and his translator. Wall Street Journal
Robert D. Richardson is the acclaimed author of several biographies, including William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism, Emerson: The Mind on Fire, and Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind. He has edited anthologies such as Three Centuries of American Poetry and Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays, Lectures, and Poems, and has taught at Harvard, Yale, the University of Denver, and UNC-Chapel Hill, among many others. He and his wife, Annie Dillard, live in Key West; Cripple Creek, Virginia; and South Wellfleet, Massachusetts.