Kitab al-aghani (Arabic: كتاب الأغاني, The Book of Songs), is an encyclopedic collection of poems and songs that runs to over 20 volumes in modern editions by the 10th-century Arabic litterateur Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani (var. al-Isbahani). Abu l-Faraj claimed to have taken 50 years in writing the work, which ran to over 10 000 pages. It can be seen as having three distinct sections: the first dealing with the '100 Best Songs' chosen for the caliph Harun al-Rashid, the second with royal composers and the third with songs chosen by the author himself. It spans the period from the Jahiliyya to the end of the 9th century CE. Abu l-Faraj importantly included performance directions for many of the songs included in Kitab al-aghani. Due to the accompanying biographical annotations on the personages in Kitab al-aghani, the work is an important historical and literary historical source; it is also useful for those interested in the sociology of Arabic literature.
The prominent 14th-century historian Ibn Khaldun called The Book of Songs the register of the Arabs: "It comprises all that they had achieved in past of excellence in every kind of poetry, history, music, etc. So far as I am aware, no other book can be put on a level with it in this respect. It is the final resource of the student of belles lettres and leaves him nothing further to be desired".
- al-Iṣfahīnī, Abu l-Faraj, Kitāb al-aghānī, Dār al-Fikr, 21 parts and Index in 9 vols., equivalent to the edition Kairo 1322/1905–5.
- al-Isfahani, Abu l-Faraj, Kitab al-aghani, 25 vols., Beirut, Dar Sader Publishers: 2004.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Columbia Encyclopedia
- Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani, Kitab al-aghani, 25 vols., Beirut, Dar Sader Publishers: 2004.
- Kilpatrick, H., Making the Great Book of Songs: Compilation and the Author's Craft in Abu l-Faraj al-Isbahani's Kitab al-aghani, London, RoutledgeCurzon: 2003.
- Kilpatrick, H., 'Abu l-Farag's profiles of poets. Much work has been done in recent years on Kitab al-aghani by, among others, Hilary Kilpatrick, whose book Making the Great Book of Songs
- Sawa, George Dimitri (2016). Erotica, Love and Humor in Arabia : Spicy Stories from The Book of Songs by al-Isfahani. McFarland & Company. p. 2. ISBN 9781476663654.
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