The Rubiyt of Omar Khayym
- FitzGerald, Edward

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The Light of Asia (Calotypes)

Commentary

The first of pictorial photographer Adelaide Hanscom Leeson’s two editions of FitzGerald’s Rubiyt, the 1908 volume is one of the most important early-twentieth-century photopoetic books, demonstrating a determined and skilful move away from topography-centric illustration towards a more metaphorical, figure-based approach to the pairing of text and image. Hanscom Leeson approached The Rubiyt using male and female nudes, manipulating negatives, and engaging with Persian symbolism to create images that proved the most radical and unconventional of her photographic career and provided her with major professional success.

Approaching photopoetry as a kind of translation (that is, with an illustrative agenda, most photographers attempted descriptive rather than evocative or metaphorical images) it is interesting to note with The Rubiyt that its own textual instabilities crept into the photopoetic editions. Hanscom Leeson, for example, chose the fourth edition (1879) but Mabel Eardley-Wilmot the original translation (1859), of the four published within FitzGerald’s lifetime and the one posthumous edition. One important factor of this choice was Khayym’s reduced presence as narrator in the later editions, something that Hanscom Leeson appears to manipulate, replacing the inconsistent (or even absent) lyric voice with a photographic one.

Book Details

Author: FitzGerald, Edward
Title: The Rubiyt of Omar Khayym
Publication Year: 1908
Poets Featured: Khayym, Omar
Photographers Featured: Leeson, Adelaide Hanscom
Photographic process: Calotypes

This book can be found in the University of St Andrews Library catalogue HERE

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