Spanning the fifth century to the sixteenth, and ranging from Afghanistan to Spain, this unique collection provides a profound insight into the sheer vitality and depth of Classical Arabic literature. From the earliest surviving fragments of The Thousand and One Nights to the elegant beauty and profound power of the Qur'an - believed by the Islamic faith to contain the actual words of Allah - it includes translated extracts from all the major works of the period, alongside many less well-known but equally fascinating pieces.
Exploring such traditional themes as lovesick yearning and fated doom, and considering subjects as diverse as the etiquette of falling in love with slave-girls and the terrors of the sea. This compelling anthology of poetry and prose brilliantly illuminates a body of writing that has been unjustly neglected by the west for centuries.
Robert Irwin's invaluable commentary explains the literary traditions and rules of the medieval Arab world and places the works meticulously in context.