This is the first systematic literary study of one of the masterpieces of classical Arabic literature, the fourth/tenth century Kitâb al-aghânî (The Book of Songs) by Abû I-Faraj al-Isbahânî. Until now the twenty-four volume Book of Songs has been regarded as a rather chaotic but priceless mine of information about classical Arabic music, literature and culture. This book approaches it as a work of literature in its own right, with its own internal logic and coherence. The study also consistently integrates the musical component into the analysis and proposes a reading of the work in which individual anecdotes and poems are related to the wider context, enhancing their meaning.
Table of Contents
1. Modern Research on the Kitâb al-aghânî 2. Abû I-Faraj's Life, Times and Works 3. Abû I-Faraj's Interventions: Songs and Singers 4. Abû I-Faraj's Interventions: Poetry and Poets 5. Abû I-Faraj's Interventions: Prose akhbâr and the Arrangement of Material 6. Articles on Songs, Events and Relationships 7. Articles on Personalities 8. Connections between Articles: The Common Fund of Material 9. Ordering the Material: The Framework of Introductory Songs
Hilary Kilpatrick studied Arabic at Oxford. She has taught at the universities of St. Andrews, UK, Nijmegen, The Netherlands and Bern, Switzerland, and now works as an independent scholar in Lausanne. She is one of the editors of the Arabic and Middle Eastern Literatures series, and has published on modern Arabic fiction and classical Arabic belles-lettres, and has made some translations from modern Arabic literature.