Books: The Persian or the Scholar?

Arthur John Arberry, Cambridge University professor of Arabic and authority on Persian, is a plump and hearty gentleman with a stiff black mustache who long ago made up his mind about one thing. "Every scholar of Persian," he once wrote, "firmly resolves, quite early in his career, that whatever other temptation he may yield to in the course of his alluring adventures, he will never be drawn into the Omar Khayyám controversy . . ." By last week, Professor Arthur Arberry, 45, had found himself not only drawn into the controversy, but practically the center of it.

The controversy had its beginnings...

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