It is a pity that this book is out of print; it is extremely useful for anyone interested in the lives of early Sufis. I have a well-worn paperback copy of the 1979 printing that I bought used and is nearly falling apart.
Here is the description text that appears on the back cover of my copy:
This is a major work of Islamic mysticism by the thirteenth-century Persian poet, Farid al-Din Attar. The translator, Professor Arberry, late Professor of Arabic at Cambridge, sets Attar's work and thought in perspective is the enlightening introduction.
'After his discriminating and informative introduction, Profession Arberry restricts his commentary on the text to a minimum. He leaves Attar's delicate narratives to recount deeds, miracles and anecdotes that, while revealing the distinct nature of each man's approach to mystical fulfilment, presents at the same time the growth of the Sufi movement through the contributions of these early masts.'
- The Times Educational Supplement
The book devotes a short chapter to each of the following early Sufis (using Arberry's spellings):
Hasan of Basra, Malek ibn Dinar, Habib al-Ajami, Rabe'a al-Adawiya, al-Fozail ibn Iyaz, Ebrahim ibn Adham, Beshr ibn al-Hareth, Dho'l-Nun al-Mesri, Abu Yazid al-Bestami, Abd Allah ibn al-Mobarak, Sofyan al-Thauri, Shaqiq of Balkh, Dawud al-Ta'i, al-Mohasebi, Ahmad ibn Harb, Hatem al-Asamm, Sahl ibn Abd Allah al-Tostari, Ma'ruf al-Karkhi, Sari al-Saqati, Ahmad ibn Khazruya, Yahya ibn Mo'adh, Shah ibn Shoja', Yusof ibn al-Hosain, Abu Hafs al-Haddad, Abo'l-Qasem al-Jonaid, Amr ibn 'Othman, Abu Sa'id al-Kharraz, Abu'l-Hosain al-Nuri, Abu Othman al-Hiri, ibn Ata, Somnun, al-Termedhi, Khair al-Nassaj, Abu Bakr al-Kattani, ibn Khafif, al-Hallaj, Ebrahim al-Khauwas, al-Shebli