Complete in 5 vols. Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi's great poem, the Mathnawi, is one of the best known and most influential works of Muslim mysticism. The Mathnawi was begun around 1258 at the suggestion of a disciple, Husam al-Din, who actei . as amanuensis, and though the final story is incomplete, composition probably ceased a while before Rumi's death in 1273. The six books of the poem amount to more than 25,000 verses. Loosely structured and at times metrically rough and colloquial in style, the world : pursues its way through hundreds of store -.s, drawn from many literary and other sources and used to illustrate the main theme, man's predicament in his search for God. Nicholson's critical edition is based on the oldest known manuscripts, including the earliest, dated 1278, and preserved in the Mawlana Museum at Qonya. It remains the standard text and is provided with diacritical marks to assist the student. This prose translation, similarly, is intended to be an exact and faithful guide to the Persian. The commentary, planned to be useful both for specialists and others, in addition to explaining numererous textual questions, traces Rump's sources and cites many parallels to his ideas.