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Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran Kahlil Gibran[1†]

Kahlil Gibran, also known as Gibran Khalil Gibran, was a Lebanese-American writer, poet, visual artist, and philosopher[1†][2†]. He was born on January 6, 1883, in Bsharri, a village in the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Ottoman Syria, which is now modern-day Lebanon[1†][2†].

Gibran is best known for his book “The Prophet,” which was first published in the United States in 1923 and has since become one of the best-selling books of all time, having been translated into more than 100 languages[1†]. His work is highly romantic in outlook and was influenced by the Bible, Friedrich Nietzsche, and William Blake[1†][2†].

His writings, which deal with themes such as love, death, nature, and a longing for the homeland, are expressive of Gibran’s deeply religious and mystic nature[1†][2†]. He was also considered a philosopher, although he himself rejected the title[1†].

Gibran’s life and work served as a bridge between the East and the West, making him a significant figure in the world of literature[1†][3†]. His influence extends beyond literature to various fields such as art and philosophy[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Kahlil Gibran was born on January 6, 1883, in Bsharri, a village in the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Ottoman Syria, which is now modern-day Lebanon[2†][1†]. He was born into a Maronite Christian family[2†][4†]. As a young boy, he displayed an early artistic aptitude and a love for nature[2†][4†].

In 1895, Gibran immigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States, settling in Boston’s South End, which at the time was the second-largest Lebanese-American community[2†][3†]. His mother began working as a seamstress peddler, selling lace and linens[2†][3†]. Gibran started school on September 30, 1895[2†][3†]. His creative abilities were quickly noticed by a teacher who introduced him to photographer and publisher F. Holland Day[2†][1†].

At the age of 15, Gibran was sent back to his native land by his family to enroll at the Collège de la Sagesse in Beirut[2†][1†][5†]. During this time, he excelled in the Arabic language[2†]. He returned to Boston in 1902 following the death of his youngest sister[2†][1†].

In 1904, Gibran’s drawings were displayed for the first time at Day’s studio in Boston, and his first book in Arabic was published in 1905 in New York City[2†][1†]. With the financial help of a newly met benefactress, Mary Haskell, Gibran studied art in Paris from 1908 to 1910[2†][1†].

Career Development and Achievements

After returning to Boston in 1903, Gibran published his first literary essays[2†]. In 1907, he met Mary Haskell, who would become his lifelong benefactor[2†]. With her financial support, Gibran was able to study art in Paris from 1908 to 1910[2†].

In 1912, Gibran settled in New York City, where he devoted himself to writing literary essays and short stories, both in Arabic and English, and to painting[2†]. His literary and artistic output is highly romantic in outlook and was influenced by the Bible, Friedrich Nietzsche, and William Blake[2†]. His writings, which deal with themes such as love, death, nature, and a longing for the homeland, are full of lyrical outpourings and are expressive of Gibran’s deeply religious and mystic nature[2†].

Gibran’s principal works in Arabic include: ʿArāʾis al-Murūj (1910; Nymphs of the Valley); Damʿah wa Ibtisāmah (1914; A Tear and a Smile); Al-Arwāḥ al-Mutamarridah (1920; Spirits Rebellious); Al-Ajniḥah al-Mutakassirah (1922; The Broken Wings); Al-ʿAwāṣif (1923; “The Storms”); and Al-Mawākib (1923; The Procession), poems[2†].

His principal works in English are The Madman (1918), The Forerunner (1920), The Prophet (1923; film 2014), Sand and Foam (1926), and Jesus, the Son of Man (1928)[2†].

Gibran is widely credited with ushering in a renaissance of modern Arabic literature, especially prose poetry, having departed from the long-standing traditional conventions steeped in Bedouin poetry[2†][6†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Kahlil Gibran’s first book, “Al-Musiqah” (Music), was published in Arabic in 1905[3†]. He continued to write in Arabic and published several works, including “Ara’is al-Muruj” (Nymphs of the Valley), in which he was critical of the relationship between church and state, and advocated for their separation[3†].

In 1918, Gibran published his first book in English, "The Madman"[3†][5†]. This was a slim volume of aphorisms and parables written in biblical cadence somewhere between poetry and prose[3†]. His most famous work, “The Prophet,” was first published in the United States in 1923[3†][1†][5†][7†].

Here are some of his main works with the information on the first year of publication:

Analysis and Evaluation

Kahlil Gibran was a key figure in a Romantic movement that transformed Arabic literature in the first half of the twentieth century[8†]. His early works were sketches, short stories, poems, and prose poems written in simple language for Arabic newspapers in the United States[8†]. These pieces spoke to the experiences and loneliness of Middle Eastern immigrants in the New World[8†]. For Arab readers accustomed to the rich but difficult and rigid tradition of Arabic poetry and literary prose, Gibran’s simple and direct style was a revelation and an inspiration[8†].

Gibran’s reputation in the English-speaking world, on the other hand, has been mixed[8†]. His works have been hugely popular, making him the best-selling American poet of the twentieth century, but that enthusiasm has not been shared by critics[8†]. His paintings and drawings of sinuous idealized nudes belong to symbolism and art nouveau and are, thus, a survival of a tradition rejected both by American realists and European abstractionists[8†]. His English books—most notably, The Prophet (1923), with its earnest didactic romanticism—found no favor with critics whose models were the cool intellectualism of James Joyce and T. S. Eliot or the gritty realism of Ernest Hemingway[8†]. As a result, Gibran has been dismissed as a popular sentimentalist by American critics and historians of art and of literature[8†].

However, there are signs that this situation is changing, at least on the literary side, as critics become more sensitive to the characteristics of immigrant writing[8†]. Gibran explored many Christian themes—for example, good versus evil—and imagery, but Gibran believed that both “light” and “dark” elements in people are symbiotic parts that are essential[8†][9†]. Gibran spoke of a universal type of love in his literary works, which involved accepting both pain and ecstasy in order to grow spiritually[8†][9†].

Personal Life

Kahlil Gibran was born into a Maronite Christian family in Bsharri, a village in the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Ottoman Syria, which is now modern-day Lebanon[1†][2†]. His family was poor, and he received no formal education as a small child[1†][10†]. However, he had regular visits from the local priest who taught him about the Bible as well as the Syrian and Arabic languages[1†][10†].

In 1895, Gibran immigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States, settling in Boston’s South End[1†][2†]. His mother began working as a seamstress peddler, selling lace and linens[1†]. Gibran started school on September 30, 1895[1†]. His creative abilities were quickly noticed by a teacher who introduced him to photographer and publisher F. Holland Day[1†].

Gibran was sent back to his native land by his family at the age of fifteen to enroll at the Collège de la Sagesse in Beirut[1†][2†]. He returned to Boston in 1902 following the death of his youngest sister[1†]. He lost his older half-brother and his mother the following year, seemingly relying afterward on his remaining sister’s income from her work at a dressmaker’s shop for some time[1†].

In 1911, Gibran settled in New York, where his first book in English, The Madman, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1918[1†]. Gibran passed away on April 10, 1931, in New York City[1†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Kahlil Gibran is one of the best-selling poets of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism[11†]. His book “The Prophet,” first published in 1923, has sold over 100 million copies and has been translated into over 40 languages[11†]. He helped present an appealing mystical idea of the wisdom of the East[11†].

Through his writings, Gibran invites us to explore the depths of our souls, embrace our humanity, and strive for a higher spiritual existence[11†][12†]. His legacy serves as a reminder of the power of art and literature to touch hearts, transcend borders, and unite humanity in a shared journey towards understanding, compassion, and self-discovery[11†][12†].

Gibran’s literary and artistic output is highly romantic in outlook and was influenced by the Bible, Friedrich Nietzsche, and William Blake[11†][2†]. His writings in both languages, which deal with such themes as love, death, nature, and a longing for the homeland, are full of lyrical outpourings and are expressive of Gibran’s deeply religious and mystic nature[11†][2†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Kahlil Gibran [website] - link
  2. Britannica - Khalil Gibran: Lebanese-American author [website] - link
  3. University of Maryland - The George and Lisa Zakhem Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace - Biography [website] - link
  4. Biography - Kahlil Gibran [website] - link
  5. Academy of American Poets - About Kahlil Gibran [website] - link
  6. Middle East Monitor - Profile: Kahlil Gibran (6 Jan 1883 – 10 April 1931) [website] - link
  7. History - "The Prophet," by Lebanese-American poet-philosopher Kahlil Gibran, is published [website] - link
  8. Poetry Foundation - Kahlil Gibran [website] - link
  9. eNotes - Kahlil Gibran Analysis [website] - link
  10. Google Books - Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World - Jean Gibran, Kahlil Gibran [website] - link
  11. PBS - Religion & Ethics Newsweekly - Kahlil Gibran’s Legacy [website] - link
  12. Medium - GURUPRASAD BRAHMA - Awakening Hearts: Kahlil Gibran’s Timeless Wisdom for Embracing Humanity and Becoming our Best Selves [website] - link
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