Mark Twain’s Interest in Sufism

Mark Twain might seem like an unlikely admirer of the Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet Omar Khayyam, who wrote a series of brooding meditations on human existence before he died in the twelfth century. . . . An avid reader of all types of literature, however, Twas was bound to encounter the intense vogue for Oman Khayyam’s verses that swept across Great Britain and America in the second half of the nineteenth century. The English poet and translator Edward FitzGerald was responsible for the massive wave on interest in The Rubaiyat. . . . From the moment that Mark Twain first laid eyes on a translation of The Rubaiyat’s quatrains, he became a rapt and proselytizing devotee of both their beauty and their message.

–Alan Gribben, “‘Bond Slave to FitzGerald’s Omar’: Mark Twain and the Rubaiyat,” Sufism and American Literary Masters, ed. Mehdi Aminrazavi (Albany, NY: SUNY Press 2014): 245-262.

Link to Sufism and American Literary Masters