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Synopsis

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.

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