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The Letters of Edward FitzGerald

Famous for his Omar Khayyam translation, Edward FitzGerald deserved equal fame as a writer of intimate letters. A man of many interests, FitzGerald corresponded with a wide circle of friends, among whom were many great names. His letters touch on all his principal activities: scholarship and translation; Greek, Persian and Spanish poetry; the discovery and editing of foreign books; the collection and renovation of neglected canvases; the noting of rare dialect words; country life in his favourite corner of East Anglia; sailing and the sea; birds; gardening and old houses. We meet him first at Cambridge, as a shy undergraduate on the edge of a brilliant circle, The Apostles. With them and with other great men of the time he made acquaintance only in his London years. Tennyson, his brother Frederick, and Carlyle were the friends of his London days. When he moved to Suffolk a new circle formed around him, whose principal figure was the Quaker poet Bernard Barton; and in his later life a number of Americans, admirers of Omar Khayyam, were added to his regular correspondents. Chief among these was Mrs Fanny Kemble, a childhood friend rediscovered. This selection includes both complete letters and excerpts covering the whole of Edward FitzGerald's long life.
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About the Author

The editor, J.M. Cohen was an English critic and translator, author of a study of Robert Browning, of The History of Western Literature (Penguin Books), of Poetry of this Age, 1900-1958 (Hutchinson), and of various Penguin translations (Don Quixote, Rabelais, Montaigne, etc.), and specialised in the literature of the 17th and 19th centuries in the chief European languages. He contributed critical articles to various literary periodicals, but principally to the Times Literary Supplement.

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