The Luzumiyat of Abu'l-Ala/Press and Personal Notices
PRESS AND PERSONAL NOTICES
Mr. Rihani's book is roundly workmanlike, with adequate scholarship, and is often very felicitous. He has done a real service to modern understanding of an important though slightly known literature in presenting these selections with sufficient annotation.—New York Evening Sun.
The Luzumiyat. By Abu'l-Ala. Born in Syria, in the tenth century A. D., this poet, scholar, teacher, philosopher and pessimist became known as "the Voltaire of the East," and may well be read for the beauty of his work, even if there is little agreement with his general ideas of life.—The Christian Century.
Abu'l-Ala is a true poet, with a philosophy much nobler than Omar's, and Mr. Rihani's translation has rare poetic qualities.—Edwin Markham.
If I had but a garden for a bower
Wherein the roses of Damascus flower,
How happy, with the Luzumiyat in hand,
To pass the afternoon and sunset hour!
"The Luzumiyat" of Abu'l-Ala, as rendered into English by Mr. Ameen Rihani, is more than a mere translation—it is excellent poetry. Aside from its interest as a literary curiosity, it possesses intrinsic value as literature of a high quality. The historical matter contained in the preface of the book, as well as the notes following the preface, will appeal to the scholar who makes a study of the best expressions of Oriental thought.—James B. Kenyon.
The first English rendition of the Luzumiyat of Abu'l-Ala, comes from Ameen Rihani, the author of the Book of Khaled, who has selected the quatrains from three volumes of the works of the Syrian poet. For those who cling to a childish haze concerning Assyrians and Syrians, we would add that while the Assyrian comes down like a wolf on the fold, the Syrian, at least this particular one, has a tread like Omar Khayyam. Therein lies the chief interest of the Luzumiyat, unfair as it may be, in view of the fact that Abu'l-Ala died at about the time Omar was born. So marked and far-reaching is the resemblance, that we might almost bring ourselves to the belief that in Omar Khayyam was recreated the soul of Abu'l-Ala, with subtle changes, notable among them the casting off of the tenets of prohibition, and a substitution of fatalism for stoicism.—The Sun (New York).
What Fitzgerald did for the Man of Neishapur in his wonderful version of the Rubaiyat, Mr. Rihani has done, in scarcely inferior measure, for his own remote ancestor Abu'l-Ala. Mr. Rihani, who is a poet and essayist in English as well as in Arabic, has made a permanent addition to Literature. The Luzumiyat can not be displaced.—Michael Monahan.
Mr. Rihani has rendered valuable service to Literature in making the career of "The Lucretius of Islam," as he happily calls him, known to the general reader in the English-speaking world... The similarity of the Luzumiyat to Omar Khayyam under certain aspects, should win for Rihani's brilliant rendering a generous measure of recognition. As it is, the rare merits of the book, the critical power of the preface, the skill and sincere feeling exhibited in the verse, and the wide knowledge of English Literature shown in the notes, make it, to my mind, a little masterpiece.—Percy White.
The similarity in some parts of the Luzumiyat to Omar Khayyam is striking. But Abu'l-Ala, to my mind, is a greater poet, and he is at times so remarkably modern. I am glad to make his acquaintance through your excellent translation.—R. B. Cunninghame Graham.
There is a compelling power in his attack on hypocrisy and quackery, in his recognition of the supremacy of reason and the human soul. Those who still fondly turn to the "Rubaiyat" for enjoyment will surely find stimulus, too, and pleasure in these ruthless rhymes.—Asia.