Kahil Gibran (1883 – 1931) was a writer, poet, and artist from Lebanon. In what is considered Gibran’s most important work by many literary critics, over the course of 28 short, prophetic, and rather learned life lessons, the prophet Almustafa departs with his wisdom as the inhabitants of Orphalese prepare for his departure to his home country.
Published in 1923, it was instantly a big hit and has since found its way into over 40 languages, which is pretty good going! Essentially, here we have a batch of wise observations which can guide you on your way in life – times have sure changed over the last 100 years so, obviously, not everything here is going to transform your existence, but there are some wise old contemplations in here in what is a relaxing and concise read.
The chapters are brief and to the point and include the likes of On Love, On Marriage, On Children, On Eating and Drinking, On Clothes, and On Laws. It’s a prose poetry novella, essentially, with a lyrical quality which flows rather nicely and we can see why it would have been such a big hit back 100 years ago – TED Talks didn’t exist back then, you know?
Gibran was influenced by his religious leaning to write the novel, with Islamic mysticism playing a large role in this. Thusly, if you’re not of a religious bent (like us, terrible atheists as we are), this may be rather galling, but Gibran’s prose is strong enough to carry the short story along – think of it as a more insightful version of Paolo Coelho’s the Alchemist.
Sales of the book skyrocketed in the decades after its release, with over 200,000 shifting annually by the 1960s. These days, it’s see as a classic piece of inspirational literature which is now in the public domain in Europe – it’ll do the same in America come 2019. Up until this point, Gibran had asked all proceeds from the book be sent to his hometown in Lebanon.
Anyway, it’s a straightforward and enjoyable little book some of you may be able to take inspiration from, although many modern readers would be more likely (and better served) to turn to contemporary writers for greater insights on the human condition.
There was an animated film adaptation in 2015 which, we have to admit, completely flew over our heads. Hey, there are a lot of films coming out – we can’t keep up with all of them! It looks interesting and features the vocal talents of one Liam Neeson, although that soundtrack is enough to put us off viewing it at the moment. What jaded misanthropes we well and truly are.